Seminar on the “Implementation of Animal Health Standards: the Quest for Solutions” – Cairo, 11 – 13 October 2004

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the African Union – Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), held the regional seminar on the ‘Implementation of Animal Health Standards: the Quest for Solutions’ in Cairo (Egypt) from 11 to 13 October 2004.

The seminar was convened by the OIE and the Au-IBAR Headquarters together with the OIE Regional Representations for Africa and the Middle East, at which participated some 80 high level national representatives of Member Countries of the Regional Commissions for these two regions, as well as 60 experts and observers.

This seminar followed on from the ones held in Addis Ababa in January 2002 on animal health surveillance and emerging diseases and in Tunis in September 2002 on the organisation of Veterinary Services and Food Safety. The recommendations of these seminars were endorsed by the OIE Africa and Middle East Regional Commissions and the OIE International Committee (which is the General Assembly of the Representatives of the governments of the 167 OIE Member Countries).

Organised under the terms of the OIE/AU-IBAR cooperation Agreement and Regulations relating to the Regional Representations and Regional Commissions of the OIE in Africa and in the Middle East, the purpose of the seminar was mainly to promote solutions to help trade of animals and animal products between Africa and the Middle East. "In recent years, Africa lost the possibility of exporting several million head of livestock to the Middle East, only because of bans which were set up in relation with animal disease concerns", the Director General of the OIE, Dr Bernard Vallat, said in a statement. "Solutions to be implemented consist in developing standards on the sanitary safety of products to be traded, while at the same time in boosting the capacities of the Veterinary Services in Africa and the Middle East, so that animals and animal products from their countries can more easily access regional and international markets", Dr Vallat added.

In a common declaration, the participants of the seminar stressed – among other – the importance of activating the role and involvement of the veterinary para-professionals in animal health and veterinarians and farmers from the private sector in trade-related initiatives of surveillance and control of animal diseases. The need of supporting the efforts to standardise and harmonise the sanitary regulations for trade in animals and animal products according to the OIE guidelines and standards within the context of the regional requirements, will lead the OIE to consider this approach as a priority.

The declaration also highlighted the necessity for Member Countries Regulations to comply with the OIE standards on the quality and evaluation of the Veterinary Services, on laboratories and common policies on vaccination and control of animal diseases .The support for national and inter-regional investments on animal disease control that will have a positive impact on the reduction of poverty, improving food security and safety, were also strongly underlined and endorsed by the representatives of donors participating in the seminar.

The recommendations of the seminar will be submitted to the OIE Africa and Middle East Regional Commissions and then to the OIE International Committee in May 2005.