In response to increasing requirements for safe international trade, Veterinary Services must show that their structure, organisation, resources, and scientific and technical capabilities are in line with the needs of their own countries, and those of countries or groups of countries with which they trade. The Code recommends that Veterinary Services adopt certain fundamental principles and sets forth guidelines for evaluating the Services. The standards contained in the Code are the foundation on which importing countries base their confidence in the quality of the Veterinary Services of their trading partners. Moreover, importing countries, when making technical assessments in exporting countries, refer to the Code chapters that deal with Veterinary Services and international certification.

In this context, it is clear that strategies, mechanisms and processes that ensure a high standard of service, are very important. As a result, the OIE has given priority to drafting a chapter of standards specifically devoted to Veterinary Service quality, and is committed to pursuing continuous improvements in this area. This issue of the Scientific and Technical Review aims to share the experiences of various countries, through articles on the principles of quality and the challenges facing Veterinary Services in a changing environment; some of the solutions that different countries have implemented to ensure the quality of their services are also presented.

This publication will provide Member Countries with valuable tools for evaluating the quality of Veterinary Services, detecting shortcomings and determining any necessary adjustments or corrective measures. Similarly, exporting countries will be able to take advantage of the information in this issue of the Review to better prepare themselves for visits by inspectors from importing countries, which require proof that the Veterinary Services of exporting countries comply with the requirements contained in the OIE standards and the WTO Agreement on the Application of SPS Measures. Ultimately, this publication will help countries to assure both their own people and their trading partners, that the animals and animal products that they produce and market do not constitute a risk to human or animal health, or to the environment.