The OIE maintains a network of OIE Collaborating Centres for the purposes of providing scientific expertise and support to the OIE and its Members, and for promoting international collaboration on animal health and welfare. Collaborating Centres are designated for a specific specialty within a focus area relating to the management of general questions on animal health issues. In its designated specialty, they must provide their expertise internationally (see OIE Terms of Reference and Internal Rules for Collaborating Centres).
To provide services to the OIE, in particular within the region, in the designated specialty, in support of the implementation of OIE policies and, where required, seek for collaboration with OIE Reference Laboratories;
To propose or develop methods and procedures that facilitate harmonisation of international standards and guidelines applicable to the designated specialty;
To carry out and/or coordinate scientific and technical studies in collaboration with other centres, laboratories or organisations;
To collect, process, analyse, publish and disseminate data and information relevant to the designated specialty;
To provide, within the designated specialty, scientific and technical training to personnel from OIE Member Countries;
To organise and participate in scientific meetings and other activities on behalf of the OIE;
To identify and maintain existing expertise, in particular within its region;
To establish and maintain a network with other OIE Collaborating Centres designated for the same specialty, and should the need arise, with Collaborating Centres in other disciplines;
To place expert consultants at the disposal of the OIE.
1. Scope and background
OIE Collaborating Centres are centres of expertise in a specific designated sphere of competence relating to the management of general questions on animal health issues or other topics related to OIE activities (“specialty”). In its designated specialty, they must provide their expertise internationally.
In May 2011, the World Assembly of Delegates of the OIE (hereafter the Assembly) adopted new Terms of References (ToRs) and Internal Rules for OIE Reference Centres. The ToRs for Collaborating Centres had emphasised their role as centres of research, expertise, standardisation and dissemination of techniques within their sphere of competence, proposing or developing procedures that would facilitate harmonisation of regulations applicable to the surveillance and control of animal diseases, coordinating scientific and technical studies and providing scientific and technical training to personnel from OIE Member Countries. From 2011, the ToRs added the obligation that Collaborating Centres establish and maintain a network with other OIE Collaborating Centres designated for the same specialty, and should the need arise, with Collaborating Centres in other disciplines. Although OIE Collaborating Centres provide their expertise internationally, the new ToRs emphasised the regional focus of their activities.
In 2017, the Biological Standards Commission began to consider ways to better engage the network of OIE Collaborating Centres in the goals of the OIE. As a first step, the Commission identified focus areas for OIE Collaborating Centre activities for future applicants. The aim was to better categorise and standardise topics of interest to the OIE and to improve both clarity and opportunities for networking. The ultimate goal was to have a functioning international network of clearly identified expertise on cross-cutting thematic issues linked to the Sixth OIE Strategic Plan. In consultation with the three other OIE Specialist Commissions, the definite list of six main focus areas, each with a number of specialties, was finalised.
The OIE has developed this document on the Procedures for designation of OIE Collaborating Centres to assist Member Countries, current OIE Collaborating Centres and Contact Points, and applicant institutes to better understand the applicable procedures.
2. Submission of an application
The OIE work programme cycle runs from May to May, of which the General Sessions of the Assembly are the start and end points. For OIE Collaborating Centre applications, there are two OIE Specialist Commissions that oversee the designation process: Biological Standards Commission and Aquatic Animal Health Standards Commission for topics relating to terrestrial and aquatic animals, respectively. Depending on the proposed focus area or specialty, these Commissions could solicit one or both of the other Specialist Commissions: Scientific Commission for Animal Diseases, and Terrestrial Animal Health Standards Commission, for an opinion. If the scope of an OIE Collaborating Centre covers both aquatic and terrestrial animal diseases, a lead Commission will be identified and the other relevant Commission (Biologicals or Aquatics) will be consulted.
OIE Specialist Commission meetings are held twice in a cycle, with the first meeting usually held in September and the second meeting in February; these dates can vary slightly each cycle based on the availability of the members of the relevant Commissions. Applications, which must be on topics identified in the focus areas and specialties, should be submitted 45 days before the date scheduled for the Specialist Commission meeting. The 45-day period gives the OIE sufficient time to screen, translate into English when necessary, and process the dossiers for the Commission’s evaluation. Deadlines must be strictly observed to allow a full evaluation of the dossiers by the members of the Commission prior to the meeting. Applications received after the deadline are examined at the next Commission meeting.
The applicant institute should submit the information using the guidelines for applicants for OIE Collaborating Centre status published on the OIE website: https://www.oie.int/en/scientific-expertise/collaborating-centres/guidelines-for-applicants/. Applications must be limited to no more than 20 pages in A4 format, single-spaced using Times New Roman font size 10pt. Relevant appendices may be attached with clear cross-referencing to the core document to provide further details, but it must be borne in mind that all the necessary information should be summarised in the main document. All documents must be prepared in one of the official languages of the OIE (English, French or Spanish).
While evaluating a submitted dossier, the Commission may have questions for the applicant institute. These questions will be sent by letter signed by the Director General of the OIE after the Commission meeting. The applicant institute should provide written answers by an appointed deadline or by the deadline prior to the next meeting of the Commission (45 days before the date scheduled for the next meeting of the relevant Commission).
According to the Internal Rules, Collaborating Centres are limited to one per topic per region. Multiple institutions interested in designation for the same topic in the same region could apply as a consortium or seek to form a consortium with an already designated Centre. Proposals to form consortia will be evaluated by the Biological Standards or Aquatic Animal Health Standards Commission, the Council, the Regional Commission and finally adopted by the Assembly.
3. Preliminary screening of application
On submission of the dossier, the OIE Headquarters (Science and New Technologies Department) acknowledges its receipt and confirms the meeting dates of the relevant Specialist Commission. If a gap in the information provided is identified, the OIE Headquarters may request the submission of an amended application or additional information before a set deadline.
4. Evaluation by the relevant OIE Specialist Commissions
As stated above, the Biological Standards Commission and the Aquatics Animal Health Standards Commission conduct evaluations of OIE Collaborating Centre applications for terrestrial and aquatic animal diseases, respectively, but could solicit the opinion of the one or both of the other Specialist Commissions: Scientific Commission for Animal Diseases, and Terrestrial Animal Health Standards Commission.
The Terms of Reference, Internal Rules, Qualification and election procedures for members of OIE Specialist Commissions are found in the OIE Basic Texts. The members of the Commissions are elected or re-elected every 3 years by the Assembly. Commission members are requested to comply with the OIE requirements and procedures regarding confidentiality and the management of conflicts of interest. The President of the Commission and the OIE Secretariat ensure that any members with conflicting interests in relation to a particular dossier do not take part in the discussions and final decision-making.
The OIE Basic Texts also provide the Terms of Reference, designation criteria, and internal rules for OIE Collaborating Centres. All OIE Collaborating Centres applications are assessed by the appropriate OIE Specialist Commission using standardised criteria that include: the institution’s ability, capacity and readiness to provide services; the scientific and technical standing of the institution concerned at the national and international levels; the quality of its scientific and technical leadership including internationally recognised expertise; the institution’s prospective stability in terms of personnel, activity and funding; and the technical and geographical relevance of the institution and its activities to OIE’s programme priorities.
When conducting an evaluation of an applicant OIE Collaborating Centre, the Commission may also take into account any other information available in the public domain that is considered as pertinent to the evaluation of the dossier.
In accordance with the Basic Texts of the OIE, all formal correspondence between the Commission and outside individuals or bodies shall be issued through the office of the Director General of the OIE. All correspondence between an applicant institute and the OIE Headquarters is duly documented by the OIE Headquarters.
5. Evaluation by the relevant OIE Regional Commissions
In light of the regional focus of the activities of OIE Collaborating Centres, and of Article 3 of the Internal Rules (for OIE Reference Centres), which states that “no more than one Collaborating Centre shall be designated for the same category of specialty in the same region or, exceptionally, in a sub-region”, all applications must also be reviewed and endorsed by the relevant OIE Regional Commission.
6. Endorsement by the OIE Council
In accordance with Article 3 of Chapter 4 on the Internal Rules, and relevant Resolutions previously adopted, all OIE Collaborating Centre applications are endorsed by the OIE Council before presented to the Assembly for approval.
7. Communication on the outcome of the evaluation with the applicant Collaborating Centre
After their meeting, the relevant Specialist Commission produces a report that includes the outcomes of the evaluation of Collaborating Centre applications. For successful applicants, the title and address of the applicant institute and the Contact Point are published in the report along with the recommendation that they be accepted by the Assembly for adoption by resolution. Unsuccessful applicants are informed by letter from the Director General of the OIE. This letter is not released in the public domain and the identity of the institution is not revealed in the Commission report. In some cases the Specialist Commission may have questions or require additional information before a final decision can be taken. This information should be submitted to the OIE by the appointed deadline for consideration by the Commission at its next meeting.
8. Adoption of OIE Collaborating Centres by the Assembly
The Assembly, on the basis of the assessment by the relevant OIE Specialist Commission, Regional Commission and the endorsement by the OIE Council, adopts by Resolution all new OIE Collaborating Centres. Official designation as an OIE Collaborating Centre comes into force only after adoption of Resolution of the Assembly.
Shortly after the General Session, the newly designated OIE Collaborating Centre will receive a letter from the OIE Director General. The OIE Headquarters also updates the list of OIE Collaborating Centre on its website.
*Presented to the appropriate Regional Commission at the meeting during the General Session
or at a regular Regional Conference depending on the meeting schedule.
9. Change of the OIE Contact Point
Each OIE Collaborating Centre has a Contact Point to supervise the Centre’s activities and act as the liaison between the OIE Headquarters and OIE Member Countries. The Contact Point is often the Director of the institute that hosts the Centre. For changes of Contact Point, the institution should inform the OIE Delegate of the Member Country concerned along with the OIE Headquarters. The relevant OIE Specialist Commissions is also informed of the change and the OIE database is updated.
10. De-listing of OIE Collaborating Centres
Upon the screening and analysis performed by the OIE Headquarters, the relevant Commission reviews the reports and activities of the Collaborating Centres. Where there is insufficient evidence of OIE mandate-related activities, as described in the application, the Commission may recommend to the Council and to the Assembly the withdrawal of the Collaborating Centre designation.
In accordance with Article 9 of the Internal Rules, a Collaborating Centre may revoke the designation at any time. If an OIE Collaborating Centre decides to withdraw its designation as such, an official letter should be submitted to the OIE through the Delegate of the country.
Moreover, in accordance with Article 9 of the Internal Rules, the designation of a Collaborating Centre shall be withdrawn if the Collaborating Centre fails to comply with the provisions of the ToRs and the present Rules. In such cases, the Director General of the OIE, after consulting the appropriate OIE Specialist Commission and OIE Council and notifying the Delegate of the country, proposes the withdrawal to the Assembly.
According to the February 2018 meeting report of the Commissions, five critical points for consideration when evaluating a Centre’s performance were identified:
i) the lack of submission of an annual report;
ii) no response to or progress on specific collaboration projects;
iii) a pattern revealing lack of activity;
iv) no response to requests from the OIE Headquarters for scientific expertise (e.g. inquiry of technical advice from OIE Member Countries, revision of OIE Standards, etc.).
v) noncompliance with administrative obligations relating to transparency and confidentiality (e.g. not renewing the potential conflict of interests declaration or providing a confidentiality undertaking: https://www.oie.int/en/about-us/key-texts/experts-obligations/).
10.1. Renewal of designation at the end of the 5-year term
At the end of the 5-year period, a letter will be sent from the Director General of the OIE requesting a summary of the achievements of the past 5 years and a proposal for the activities for the forthcoming 5 years.
The Biological Standards Commission or the Aquatic Animal Health Standards Commission may consider proposing delisting of a Collaborating Centre if the need for the specific topic activities is no longer required. Such proposals would be submitted to the Council and the Regional Commission and must finally be adopted by Resolution of the Assembly.
11. OIE Collaborating Centre Annual report
In accordance with Article 8 of the Internal Rules, the Reference Centre shall provide to the Director General a brief report of activities related to their ToRs at the end of each calendar year, according to the template established by the OIE Headquarters. A letter from the Director General of the OIE is sent to all designated experts of OIE Collaborating Centres for submission of the annual report.
Since December 2014, an on-line system for submitting annual reports for OIE Collaborating Centres has been in place.
The template of the annual report is structured around each ToR for OIE Collaborating Centres as adopted in May 2011. Questions are close-ended (yes/no answers) to generate more accurate and comparable information from the Centres. Tables to allow for the collection of detailed information related to the activities carried out by the Centre are also included. The on-line annual reporting system can be accessed via a dedicated linkand a randomly generated username and password that are sent to all Contact Points for the OIE Collaborating Centres in a letter signed by the Director General of the OIE during the last month of the reporting year. The deadline to submit the annual report of the OIE Collaborating Centre activities of each calendar year is usually by mid-January of the following year.
11.1. Review and analysis of the annual reports
The submitted annual reports are first screened and quantitatively analysed, based on the close-ended (yes/no) answers, by the OIE Headquarters. An overview of the analysis is presented to the relevant Commission at its February/March meeting.
OIE Collaborating Centres are expected to fulfil the ToRs adopted by the OIE World Assembly of Delegates as reflected in the annual report.
Any questions or concerns that may arise during the review of annual reports by the Commission can be referred to the concerned OIE Collaborating Centre through the office of the Director General of the OIE.
All annual reports of OIE Collaborating Centre are made available to all Member Countries on the OIE website (https://www.oie.int/en/scientific-expertise/collaborating-centres/annual-reports/) after the February meeting of the Commissions.
11.2. Lack of submission of the annual report
After the meeting of the relevant Commissions, Collaborating Centres that have not submitted their annual reports will be sent a letter of reminder, with the Delegate of the host Member Country in copy, to submit the report by an extended and prescribed deadline. For Centres that have still not submitted an annual report by the end of March, a reminder will be addressed directly to the Delegate, with the Contact Point in copy, giving a 2-week deadline to reply to the OIE with an explanation of the situation or circumstances that may have prevented the Collaborating Centre from fulfilling this ToR.
Further communication by letter or direct communication during the General Session may be considered, if needed, prior to the final recommendation to de-list the Centre, which would be taken by the Commission at the September meeting. This procedure could also be applied to Centres failing to meet one of the four other de-listing criteria (cf. Section 10).
Contact: [email protected]
The criteria to be applied in the selection of institutions for designation as an OIE Reference Centre are as follows:
- the institution’s ability, capacity and readiness to provide those services described under the Terms of Reference for OIE Reference Centres that are intended to form the basis of their relationship with the Organisation, including, for example, the ability to receive biological samples from other OIE Member Countries;
- the scientific and technical standing of the institution concerned at the national and international levels, presence of veterinary experts within scientific teams and, for Reference Laboratories, conformity with OIE and other international standards for laboratory quality assurance, biosafety and biosecurity measures;
- the place the institution occupies in the Member’s animal health, scientific or educational structures;
- the quality of its scientific and technical leadership including internationally recognised expertise in the field of its competence, and, for Collaborating Centres, the number and qualifications of its staff;
- the institution’s prospective stability in terms of personnel, activity and funding;
- the working relationship which the institution has developed with other institutions in the territory of the Member, as well as at the regional and global levels;
- the technical and geographical relevance of the institution and its activities to OIE’s programme priorities.
Applications for the title of Reference Centre of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) shall be submitted to the Director General by the Delegate of the OIE Member Country to which the institution belongs or by the corresponding Regional Commission.
The head of the institution shall provide the Director General with a statement of interest for the institution and its staff covering potential conflicts of interest between it as an OIE institution and any commercial entity in accordance with the procedure established by the Director General. The head of the institution shall ensure that the institution and its staff respect the legitimate confidentiality of information with which they may be entrusted in the performance of their functions for the OIE and shall submit such an undertaking to the Director General.
A Reference Laboratory should respect the intellectual property rights on samples received and not use those results, without consent, for more than determining the principal characteristics of the pathogen necessary for the country of origin to carry out an epidemiological inquiry and to decide about its control strategy. In the case of positive results for diseases that are reportable to OIE, the Reference Laboratory should immediately inform the Delegate of the OIE Member Country from which the samples originated, as well as the OIE Headquarters.
Applications received shall be presented by the Director General to the Council for endorsement, after consultation with the relevant Regional (for Collaborating Centres) and Specialist Commissions. Applications shall be selected on the basis of the criteria given above. However, in principle, no more than one Reference Laboratory shall be designated for the same pathogen or disease in the same country and no more than one Collaborating Centre shall be designated for the same category of specialty in the same region or, exceptionally, in a sub-region.
Applications endorsed by the Council shall be presented to the Assembly for approval.
The Director General shall notify approved institutions of their designation as an OIE Reference Centre, with a formal title to be used as an OIE Reference Centre. The Director General shall also inform the OIE Delegate of the host Member Country accordingly.
This notification shall confer on the institution the right to use the title ‘OIE Reference Laboratory or ‘OIE Collaborating Centre’ as appropriate and the OIE emblem on all documents issued by the Reference Centre in its official capacity, and for the Reference Laboratory, the right of the designated specialist to use the title of OIE Expert.
The Head of the Reference Centre shall be responsible for the overall implementation of the terms of reference, and for a Collaborating Centre, shall act as the sole interface with the OIE. For a Reference Laboratory, the OIE Expert is responsible for the implementation of the technical aspects of the terms of reference and may delegate specific responsibilities to other experts on an ad hoc basis. Experts associated with OIE Reference Centres exercise their function within the rules applicable to OIE Experts.
The Reference Centre shall provide to the Director General a brief report of activities related to their terms of reference at the end of each calendar year, according to the template established by the OIE Headquarters. This report will be made available to all Member Countries.
The Reference Centre may revoke the designation at any time. The designation shall be withdrawn if the Reference Centre fails to comply with the provisions of the Terms of Reference and the present Rules. In such cases, the Director General of the OIE, after consulting an appropriate Specialist Commission, proposes the withdrawal to the World Assembly of Delegates.
Any major change within the institution which may impair the function of the Reference Centre (particularly changes in personnel and in material or financial resources) shall be reported immediately to the Director General who will consult the relevant Regional and Specialist Commissions on the continuing status of the institution as a Reference Centre.
OIE Collaborating Centres must provide evidence of leadership and of the capability to fulfil the Terms of Reference.
Applications should be submitted 45 days before the date scheduled for the meetings of the relevant Specialist Commission (Biological Standards Commission: 8–12 February 2021; the next deadline is therefore 23 December 2020; Aquatic Animal Health Standards Commission: 17–24 February 2021; the next deadline is therefore 2 January 2021). The 45-day period gives the OIE sufficient time to screen, translate into English when necessary, and process the dossiers for the Commission’s evaluation. Deadlines must be strictly observed to allow a full evaluation of the dossiers by the members of the Commission prior to its meeting. Applications received after the deadline will be examined in the next meeting of the Commission.
Applications shall be submitted in accordance with Article 1 of the Internal Rules and should include the following information:
1. Name and address of applicant institution(s) (telephone and fax numbers, e-mail address, Web site).
2. Name of Director(s) of the institution(s).
3. Name of proposed Head of the Collaborating Centre.
4. The main focus area and specific speciality for which the applicant wishes to be considered.
5. Description of how the proposed Centre’s specific specialty will support the OIE and its Member Countries over the 5-year designation period through the workplan, in line with the OIE Strategic Plan. This description should include specific activities and collaboration with the OIE and other centres of expertise, where relevant
6. Summary of recent activities within the speciality as an international centre of research, scientific expertise, standardisation of techniques and dissemination of knowledge relevant to the proposed Collaborating Centre.
7. Summary of recent activities on the development of methods and procedures that will facilitate harmonisation of international standards and guidelines relevant to the proposed Collaborating Centre.
8. Recent provision of expert consultancy, or scientific and technical training for the OIE or OIE Members other than the one in which the proposed Centre is located.
9. Recent international scientific meetings organised by the proposed Collaborating Centre.
10. List of current activities relevant to the proposed Collaborating Centre carried out in collaboration with other centres, laboratories or organisations.
11. List of recent publications of international significance relevant to the proposed Collaborating Centre.
12. Information on professional experience and relevant expertise of the proposed Head of the Collaborating Centre and the scientists who will work within the proposed Collaborating Centre demonstrating their competence relevant to the proposed Collaborating Centre.
13. Where the proposed Centre involves more than one institution or research group, robust governance arrangements should be documented, to ensure clear lines of communication and accountability. Direct OIE Member involvement in governance arrangements, with appropriate financial support, is recommended.
14. A description or an organisational chart of the proposed Collaborating Centre and the institution(s) hosting it.
15. Relevant legal and budgetary provisions in place that provide assurance on the sustainability and functioning of the centre.
The term for an OIE Collaborating Centre will be 5 years after which the designation will be reviewed by the relevant OIE Specialist Commission
The application will be processed by OIE in accordance with Articles 2, 3 and 4 of the Internal Rules.
Guidance for the Management of OIE Collaborating Centre Networks
The global network of OIE Reference Centres is the central core of the OIE’s scientific excellence. The First International Conference of OIE Reference Laboratories and Collaborating Centres (held in Florianopolis, Brazil, in 2006) recommended that a network of OIE Reference Laboratories and Collaborating Centres be developed with the objective of harmonising and exchanging data, information and reference material to improve disease surveillance and control worldwide.
The Second Global Conference of OIE Reference Laboratories and Collaborating Centres (held in Paris in June 2010) encouraged the networks of OIE Reference Laboratories and Collaborating Centres to continue working together to strengthen multilateral cooperation, in particular with the aim of producing and increasing availability of validated biological reference materials. In order to strengthen this collaboration, the OIE Reference Laboratories and Collaborating Centres should continue to exchange knowledge, reference materials and expertise to the benefit of OIE Member Countries.
The Terms of Reference (ToR) adopted in May 2011 explicitly require OIE Collaborating Centres to establish and maintain a network with other OIE Collaborating Centres designated for the same specialty, and should the need arise, with Collaborating Centres in other disciplines. More details on the ToR of OIE Collaborating Centres are available at the following link.
The OIE has identified the need for further guidance on the coordination of the OIE Reference Centre networks. The objective is to assure unified expert opinions and advice to OIE Member Countries through the enhanced exchange of information.
The network of OIE Collaborating Centres shall provide scientific expertise and support to the OIE and its Members, and promote international collaboration on animal health and welfare. Networking will improve the credibility and increase the visibility of OIE Collaborating Centres worldwide, and will attract the participation of other national centres from OIE Member Countries.
On a case-by-case basis, the OIE Headquarters could invite the existing Collaborating Centres to meet (physically or by telephone conference) to help to create a network, to appoint the secretariat, and to follow this guidance.
- Networking among OIE Collaborating Centres is part of their ToR. When two or more OIE Collaborating Centres are designated for the speciality (within a focus area), a network must be established. Participation in the network is compulsory for OIE Collaborating Centres.
- Within the network, only OIE Collaborating Centres are accountable to the OIE. However it is a requirement of OIE Collaborating centres that they collaborate with other centres, laboratories and organisations, as appropriate. Hence other centres might participate in the network.
- The network should have a clear work plan and the secretariat (officially notified to the OIE) in one of the participating OIE Collaborating Centres to serve as a liaison with the OIE Headquarters. It is recommended that the secretariat is responsible for coordination, leadership and accountability of the network. The secretariat may rotate among participating centres (e.g. every 3 years). It is the responsibility of the Secretariat of the network to manage conflicts of interests and confidentiality undertakings if they are deemed required by the network and OIE is not involved in this process.
- Each network secretariat should provide the OIE Director General with an annual report of its activities, achievements, obstacles, future initiatives (individual centres can make reference to the network report in its annual OIE Collaborating Centres report).
- When meetings are organised by the network, participation of OIE staff as observers should be allowed, and the secretariat should produce a meeting report that should be shared with the OIE Headquarters.
- If a discrepancy or disagreement arises that cannot be resolved within the network, the secretariat should inform the OIE Headquarters without delay. The OIE Headquarters will inform the Biological Standards Commission thereof accordingly.
- Conditions for inclusion of a network website link on the Website of the OIE:
- The network may establish a website to disseminate information on its activities. The network should formally request the Director General of the OIE that a link to its website be added to the OIE website.
- The website of the network must comply with OIE rules for graphic layout and other applicable OIE policies.
- Any major changes to the website of the network should be notified to the OIE in advance.
- The OIE Headquarters reserves the right to recommend any changes to the content of the web site of the network, as deemed appropriate, and to remove the link of the web site of the network at any time while providing the reasons to the secretariat of the network.
- The reports and activities of the network reflects the views of the network members and may not necessarily reflect the views of the OIE.
OIE contact point for networks:
World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)
12, rue de Prony
75017 Paris, France
E-mail: [email protected]