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The World Assembly of OIE Delegates elects Dr. Karin Schwabenbauer as President of the Council

Dr. Schwabenbauer is the first woman to head the OIE Council and World Assembly in the history of the organisation

Paris, 25 May 2012 – On this 80th General Session the OIE World Assembly representing 178 Member Countries elected Dr. Karin Schwabenbauer as President for a three-year term.

Dr. Schwabenbauer from Germany is the first woman elected in this position in the history of the organisation; she succeeds Dr Carlos Correa Messuti from Uruguay who was elected in 2009.

The Delegates also elected or re-elected 8 other members of the Council, as well as members of the five Regional Commissions and of four technical Specialist Commissions also for a three-year term. OIE criteria for scientific excellence and geographical distribution of elected members have been fully respected.

More than 600 participants, representing OIE Member Countries, as well as many international, intergovernmental (FAO, WHO, World Bank, WTO, etc.), regional and national organisations took part in the event.

High-ranking authorities, including numerous Ministers of OIE Member Countries also honoured the Assembly with their presence, shared their perspectives and strongly supported OIE’s objectives.

Guest speaker Mr. Robert Horsch, high official of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, spoke of the Foundation’s recently approved “Livestock Overview and Approach”, which notably stresses the important cooperation of the Foundation with the OIE in relevant fields to improving animal health and welfare around the world with a benefit to poverty alleviation, including creating change in the existing regulatory animal health systems and a new approach in the use of vaccine banks.

One technical item of major importance was intensely debated during the Session: National and international experiences and roles in previous and future developments in the “One Health” approach. It emphasized the importance of addressing new and emerging diseases at the animal source as a critical element for food security, health protection and economic prosperity.

Official recognition of OIE Members’ animal disease status
The national Delegates approved the new list of countries or zones that had applied for official OIE recognition of their status with respect to one or more of three priority diseases: bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), foot and mouth disease (FMD) and contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP).

With regard to BSE, the OIE recognised Croatia and Nicaragua as having a “controlled BSE risk” status. Austria, Belgium, Brazil and Colombia were recognised as having a “negligible risk” status.

The region of the Altiplano of Bolivia was the only new zone recognised as being free of foot and mouth disease without vaccination. National control programmes for FMD control were approved by OIE. Programmes proposed by Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia were officially approved.

OIE scientific network and capacity building
With 6 completed projects and another 37 approved or underway, Delegates welcomed the success of OIE’s Twinning Programme, an initiative that encourages the exchange of competencies and experience between countries hosting OIE Reference Laboratories and Collaborating Centres already recognised and other laboratories from in-transition or developing countries which are candidates for this future position. The programme enables the latter to develop their laboratories and centres of excellence, thereby strengthening their national veterinary scientific community and contributing to enhanced global biological security.

In this respect, the Delegates accredited one new Collaborating Centre and eleven new Reference Centres Laboratories, bringing the number of official centres of scientific excellence within the OIE worldwide network to 276.

In line with OIE’s continuous engagement in supporting Veterinary Services to comply with standards on quality adopted by the OIE, 109 PVS (Performance of Veterinary Services) missions for the evaluation of the performance of Veterinary Services were carried out worldwide since May 2006 using the OIE PVS Tool as well as 58 PVS Gap analysis missions and 28 missions supporting the modernisation of national legislations.

New international standards and guidelines
The OIE received Member Countries’ support for its work addressing needs in veterinary education and veterinary legislation, which are key elements in strengthening the good governance of animal health systems. The OIE, in collaboration with an expert group comprising deans of veterinary schools from the five continents has developed a list of minimum competencies for all veterinary graduates worldwide.

The OIE is also encouraging countries to take steps to strengthen veterinary legislation based on OIE guidelines, and to establish or improve within this framework, their national Veterinary Statutory Body.

Fully aligned with societal expectations and as a commitment to advancing animal welfare worldwide, the Assembly adopted new guiding principles on animal welfare in relation to livestock production systems, and a new Terrestrial Code chapter on welfare of beef cattle. Many new standards on terrestrial and aquatic animal diseases as well as on the quality of Veterinary Services were also adopted.

World animal disease situation
The worldwide animal health situation covering more than 100 diseases of terrestrial or aquatic animals was examined. In particular, Delegates were presented with an expert review on the emerging Schmallenberg virus, a new virus that was active in the fall and winter 2011-2012 across Western Europe.

The OIE Director General also announced the imminent launch of OIE’s new modernised version of the World Animal Health Information System, WAHIS for animal disease reporting. 

International solidarity
Mory Kanté, Guinean vocalist of international renown, was a guest of this 80th OIE General Session. Well known for his involvement in the fight against hunger and poverty, Mr. Kanté performed with his kora harp the day of the inaugural session in celebration of the historical mission of the OIE in favour of global solidarity to address food security.

The World Veterinary Day Award 2012, whose theme was “antimicrobial resistance”, was presented to the Turkish Veterinary Medical Association.