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The Office International des Epizooties opens its fifth Regional Representation

On 17 October 2000, the Office International des Epizooties (OIE), represented by its Director General, Dr Jean Blancou, and the Government of Mali, represented by its Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Modibo Sidibé, concluded an agreement on the establishment of an OIE Regional Representation for Africa in Bamako (Mali).

This agreement governs the installation and operation of the Representation, together with all the associated privileges and immunities.

It was decided to set up the Representation in application of a Resolution taken by the OIE International Committee on 27 May 2000, which aims to achieve the objective set by the Committee in 1990: to establish an OIE Representation in each of the five major regions of the world. The Representation in Bamako will, therefore, complement the network of Regional Representations already established for Asia and the Pacific (Tokyo, since 1992), Eastern Europe (Sofia, since 1994), the Americas (Buenos Aires, since 1998) and the Middle East (Beirut, since 1999).

The purpose of the Regional Representation will be to provide OIE Member Countries with better-suited and more local services that will reinforce the surveillance and control of animal diseases in Africa. It is mandated to:

1. contribute to improving the quality of information concerning animal diseases and harmonisation of the methods of control used against these diseases, in close collaboration with the national and international animal health services established in the region,

2. promote training of the Heads of Veterinary Services or others responsible for animal health, notably by financing and then organising the courses or seminars deemed necessary by the countries of the region,

3. undertake or monitor the development of any other action deemed to be in the interest of Member Countries in the region by the OIE International Committee.

The countries falling under the competence of the OIE Regional Representation are all the OIE Member Countries in Africa.

The activities of the Representation will be conducted within the framework of a Protocol Agreement signed by the OIE and the OAU/IBAR (Organization of African Unity/Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources), funded by a financial contribution from the European Union and other donors.

In the words of the Director General of the OIE:

"Africa urgently needs to establish this Representation, which will provide an ideal centre for development of the surveillance and control of animal diseases in Africa. All the experts agree that, more than in any other region of the world, livestock production plays a crucial role in Africa, where animals, both domestic and wild, often contribute to the foundation of economic and social balance. Any threat to this capital, in the proper sense of the term, could have dramatic consequences. This threat frequently takes the form of the major epizootic diseases, for which the African continent, unfortunately, could act as one of the last reservoirs...".

In the name of the Government of Mali, Mr Modibo Sidibé thanked all the OIE African Member Countries for the trust that they had placed in his country by choosing Bamako as the site for the Representation.

This trust, the minister stressed, "is partly based on Mali's performance in the field of the development and improvement of animal production in Africa".

The OIE Regional Representation for Africa will be placed under the responsibility of
Dr Amadou Samba Sidibé. The professional experience and competence of Dr Sidibé, amply demonstrated in the functions that he has successively fulfilled in Mali, then at the OAU/IBAR and the OIE, are a guarantee for the future of the Representation.

He will soon present to the 155 OIE Member Countries details of the work programme that he will implement to improve information on animal diseases, to strengthen health security for international trade and to protect both animal and public health in Africa.