New initiatives by the OIE and its partners to improve animal and public health in Africa

Representatives of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources of the African Union (AU-IBAR) met in Bamako ( Mali ) from the 24 – 29 April 2006 in order to promote animal health activities in Africa . Representatives of the OIE Regional and Sub-regional Representations for Africa and international donors (Word Bank, European Union, and Bank of African Development) involved in the fight against Avian Influenza also took part in the meeting.

The ALive (African Livestock) Platform, managed by the World Bank, together with the OIE/FAO/AU-IBAR and all African institutions involved in the control of animal diseases, have been identified again by donors including the European Union as an optimal coordination mechanism in order to promote animal health and production in Africa as well as to participate as a key player in the prevention and control of avian influenza.

In order to realize new synergies with all partners OIE, FAO and AU/IBAR have created Regional Animal Health Centres to implement new programmes aimed at improving animal health in Africa and in particular at strengthening the control of Avian Influenza. These centres – one has already been set up in Bamako ( Mali ) and further are to come – will coordinate their activities in accordance with policies and programmes supported by the Executive Committee of ALive.

In addition to this meeting, the Director General of the OIE, Dr Bernard Vallat, also chaired the Advisory Committee of the Pan African Programme of the Control of Epizootics (PACE).

This committee noted that rinderpest was virtually eliminated from Africa and the rest of the world, but the final confirmation of the absence of the infection from the Somali ecosystem still has to be demonstrated. This could be achieved through technical support of AU/IBAR, OIE, FAO and financial assistance from donors.

It would thus be the first time in the history of animal diseases in the world that an important animal disease would be wiped out of the planet. Also, the importance of mobilising veterinary networks of the 32 PACE member countries to face both Avian Influenza and the final eradication of rinderpest in the region with the support of Alive, was stressed.

The third meeting allowed the creation of the FAO/OIE Regional Steering Committee of the Global Framework for the Progressive Control of Trans-boundary Animal Diseases (GF TADs) for Africa , hosted by the OIE regional representation in Bamako . This committee is the fifth created in the different continents in the framework of the FAO/OIE Agreement for controlling animal diseases and zoonoses worldwide.