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New international standards and guidelines on animal health

81st General Session of the World Assembly of Delegates of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)

Paris, 31 May 2013 – Over 800 participants, representing Member Countries of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and numerous international, intergovernmental, regional and national organisations (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, World Health Organization, World Bank, World Trade Organization, European Commission etc.) took part in the event.

High-ranking officials and numerous of Ministers of OIE Member Countries, also honoured the Assembly with their presence and indicated their support for the OIE's objectives in their addresses.  

Invited in her capacity as OIE Goodwill Ambassador, H.R.H. Princess Haya spoke at the Opening Session of the importance of OIE objectives as well as of horses worldwide, the increasing number of regional and global equine events and the need to facilitate international movements of horses through cooperation between the FEI, of which she is President, and the OIE.

The Representative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced an important contribution to support the strengthening of Veterinary Services worldwide.

Two technical items on issues of importance to the international community were debated during the Session:

  • Modern approaches and the use of new technologies for the control and eradication of aquatic and terrestrial animal diseases that fully consider animal welfare and minimise the impact on food security,
  • Benefits and challenges posed by the worldwide expansion of equestrian events – new standards for the population of competition horses and Equine Disease Free Zones in countries.

The 2013 World Veterinary Day Prize, on the theme 'vaccination', was awarded to the Veterinary Association of South Africa.

New international standards and guidelines

OIE Delegates adopted important new or revised chapters on such topics as animal welfare, use of antimicrobial agents in animal health, rinderpest and the control of certain aquatic animal diseases.

A new chapter on broiler chickens was adopted, including criteria and measurables for animal welfare in broiler production systems.

An important OIE Code chapter on responsible and prudent use of antimicrobial agents in veterinary medicine in all OIE Member Countries was updated.

Lastly, a new chapter on rinderpest was adopted that confirms its global eradication in animals and enacts measures to be taken in the event of any accidental or deliberate release of the virus. A dedicated video presenting this risk was shown and is accessible on OIE YouTube Channel at: http://www.youtube.com/user/OIEVideo

Numerous other standards on terrestrial and aquatic animal diseases and on quality of the Veterinary Services were also adopted.

Good veterinary governance

The OIE received the support of its Member Countries for its work on improving veterinary education and veterinary legislation, both of which are key factors for good governance of animal health systems. The OIE, in collaboration with a group of experts composed of deans of veterinary education establishments from all five continents, has developed a list of 'Day 1' competencies and a model core curriculum for all veterinary graduates throughout the world.

The OIE has also encouraged countries to take measures to strengthen veterinary legislation based on the standards the OIE has already published on the subject, and in this connection to set up or strengthen the national Veterinary Statutory Body.

Official recognition of disease status of OIE Members

The national Delegates approved the new list of countries or zones that had applied for official OIE recognition of their health status or level of risk in terms of one or more of four priority diseases: African horse sickness (AHS), bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CCBP) and foot and mouth disease (FMD).

In the case of BSE, the OIE recognised Bulgaria and Costa Rica as having 'controlled risk' status. Israel, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Slovenia and the United States of America were recognised as having a 'negligible BSE risk'. The official status of all the countries that already had an officially recognised status remained unchanged.

New zones were recognised as officially free from FMD, in Argentina, Bolivia and Peru.
The OIE endorsed the national control programme for FMD submitted by Bolivia.

In 2012, OIE Members validated the application of an official procedure for official recognition of a country's AHS status. This year, the Assembly recognised, for the first time, 59 countries as being free from the disease.

This year, the Assembly added peste des petits ruminants (PPR) and classical swine fever (CSF) to the list of diseases for which Member Countries can apply for official recognition of their disease free status.

OIE scientific network and capacity building

With eight projects completed and 42 others approved or already underway, the Delegates applauded the success of the OIE's Twinning Programme to encourage the exchange of competencies and expertise between countries hosting OIE-recognised Reference Laboratories and Collaborating Centres and candidates for this status in developing or in-transition countries. The programme is designed to help candidates become centres of excellence, thereby strengthening their national veterinary scientific community and improving the prevention, detection and control of animal diseases worldwide.

The Delegates accredited five new Collaborating Centres and six Reference Laboratories, bringing the number of official centres of scientific excellence within the OIE worldwide network to 284. 

In line with the OIE's continuous engagement in supporting Veterinary Services to achieve compliance with the standards of quality adopted by the OIE, 116 national PVS missions to evaluate the performance of countries' Veterinary Services have been carried out worldwide since May 2006, using the OIE PVS Tool; 64 national Gap Analysis missions and 31 veterinary legislation support missions have also been carried out. 

The Conference stressed the importance of using high quality vaccines complying with OIE standards for ensuring disease control worldwide. 

Animal disease situation worldwide

The world animal health situation of a number of terrestrial and aquatic animal diseases was examined. In particular, Delegates were given a detailed assessment of trends in the distribution of four diseases: FMD, PPR, rabies and an aquatic animal disease – white spot disease.  

The Assembly gave special attention to the exceptional nature of the influenza A(H7N9) episode in the People's Republic of China in April 2013. The latest available information, delivered to the Assembly by the Delegate of China, and the results of the recent OIE expert mission to China, were presented to Member Countries with a view to preparing measures to try to prevent any worldwide spread of the virus in animals.         

An analysis of Member Countries' transparency and reactivity in notifying disease outbreaks to the OIE since the launch of WAHIS in 2005 was presented.