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Improving animal health data collection through the OIE’s renovated system WAHIS+

WAHIS, the OIE’s World Animal Health Information System is being renovated to meet new sanitary challenges and to be prepared to future demands. The new tool WAHIS+ will be complete with new technological features in order to improve the collection and dissemination of data on animal diseases.

Paris, 25 May 2017 – One of the OIE’s key missions is to ensure transparency in the global animal disease situation. The World Animal Health Information System (WAHIS) allows access to reliable and validated animal health information in order to control transboundary animal diseases effectively. This system ensures the early detection of emerging diseases, contributes to protect public health and global livelihoods, and plays a significant role in facilitating safe trade.

WAHIS+ will be an evolving tool, thanks to an ambitious project launched by the OIE to develop an improved system with increased functions and a stronger reporting network. In the coming years WAHIS+ will improve the collection and the dissemination of data on animal diseases of epidemiological significance, in both domestic species and wildlife.

“WAHIS+ represents a tremendous evolution in global animal health data, it is a strategic tool to address the health challenges of tomorrow and aligns with the ‘One Health’ approach. What we need is a transdisciplinary and holistic approach to data collection, analysis and dissemination – not only addressing animal diseases, but also public health threats, while taking into consideration climatic changes and environmental factors among others” said Dr Eloit, OIE Director General, at the 85th General Session.

More than ten years have passed since the launch of the first WAHIS system, and changes are required to address the new challenges are faced by veterinary public health today. The road to WAHIS+ started one year ago, when the OIE consulted the needs of its Members, as well as a wide range of stakeholders, through survey, consultation and dialogue.

According to their suggestions, WAHIS+ will embrace new technologies and satisfy the societal changes and future needs. The new reporting system will be faster, more intuitive, and will boast new features and increased functions, including extended data mining, customisable data queries and visualisation of temporal and spatial data.

Moreover, WAHIS+ will help public health officers to build a stronger global reporting community. Genomic data linked to epidemiological information and human health databases will strengthen disease traceability and make sure that appropriate responses are made on time. The interoperability between WAHIS+ and national/regional databases, as well as the ability to adapt WAHIS+ data analysis and display at national and regional levels, will support OIE regional programmes and initiatives and ensure the better use of data to guide policy and effective decision making for the future.

In 2016, the OIE already developed a WAHIS Alerts smartphone application to ensure rapid and daily access to animal health notifications.

“Technology is crucial for early disease detection” said Dr Eloit. “Detection of zoonotic disease outbreaks in animal populations prior to spill-over into humans is a critical component of global health security that needs to be strengthened. This is our challenge and we are confident that together with our Members we will succeed.”

In addition, the Organisation announced today the launch of a new e-learning platform* on WAHIS dedicated to its Members, and in particular to national Focal Points for notification. Developed in collaboration with the Iowa State University, and with the financial support of the European Union, this interactive and pedagogic platform will provide users with an easy access to updated training material on WAHIS and animal disease notification.

Over the years, WAHIS has run big numbers. Almost 1,500 notifications and follow-up reports were received in 2016. The reporting system includes a global network of over 200 countries that report data on 116 high impact OIE-listed animal diseases and emerging animal diseases, and 34 zoonoses including anthrax, Rift Valley fever, rabies and highly pathogenic avian influenza. In addition, 16,000 subscribers receive WAHIS alerts and 80,000 visitors consult the WAHIS interface each month.

*The platform is available in English, and should be available in French and Spanish by the end of the year.


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