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Threats of emerging animal diseases transmissible to humans and actions towards poverty reduction: Dr Vallat addresses the World Bank

The significant potential impact of emerging animal diseases transmissible to humans (zoonoses) and pathogens on public health is a growing concern to all. Globalisation, industrialisation, restructuring of agricultural systems and consumerism, among others, will certainly change animal health policies.

Along with its historical missions, the OIE has been asked by its Member Countries to play a greater role in confronting the challenges of such zoonoses. In fact, emerging and re-emerging zoonotic diseases will become progressively a greater factor in the public demands on Veterinary Services at national and international level, thus impacting on future partnerships, resources, and programmes.

In this context, the Director General of the OIE, Dr Bernard Vallat, was invited last week to a meeting convened by the World Bank on "Emerging Zoonoses and Pathogens: Global Public Goods Concern; implications for the World Bank". Dr Vallat spoke to high level representatives of the World Bank, as well as distinguished guests from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and the U.S. National Restaurants Association.

It was an opportunity to discuss and enhance mutual understanding of the importance of the early detection, prevention and control of animal diseases in regards to public health and global trade. It was also an opportunity to agree on the role of the Veterinary Services worldwide as a Global Public Good, as well as considering relevant veterinary infrastructures and their compliance with OIE international standards for their evaluation and quality as a public investment priority.

"Veterinary Services and laboratories of developing countries are in urgent need of support to be able to meet these new challenges" Dr Vallat said. "This meeting was another step forward in sensitizing partner organizations, such as the World Bank, that emerging zoonoses and pathogens are a global public good concern. Capacity building and strengthening of Veterinary Services in terms of surveillance, rural network of veterinarians, early detection and rapid response capabilities, and legislation will provide the basis for better crisis prevention", Dr Vallat added.