Press Release

75th Annual General Session
of the International Committee
of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)

20 – 25 May 2007

Official OIE sanitary status recognition of Member Countries

The first new list of countries or zones officially recognized with a bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) ‘controlled risk' or ‘negligible risk' was confirmed. These new classification criteria of countries' sanitary status on BSE, ratified in May 2006, were applied for the first time.

Dr Bernard Vallat, Director General of the OIE said: “Applications are studied following a thoroughly democratic process that involves renowned international experts, the elected members of the OIE Scientific Commission for Animal Diseases and all 169 Member Countries Delegates at different stages.”

The Session also approved the lists of countries or zones recognized by the OIE as being ‘free' from foot and mouth disease (FMD), contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP) and rinderpest.

The ultimate objective is to reach free status in a maximum of countries and zones on the four priority diseases. Only strong cooperation can serve this purpose and we encourage more regional approaches like the ones taken on foot and mouth disease in South-East Asia [SEAFMD] and Mercosur countries.
In March 2007, Argentina , Brazil and Paraguay agreed to create a 15km-large intensive FMD surveillance zone along their common borders. All three countries agreed the OIE status recognition procedure could not apply to the portion of their territory included in the zone until final eradication of the disease in the region. Bolivia accepted to be involved in this procedure.

The OIE reiterated its objective, shared with the FAO, to declare the world free of rinderpest by 2010.

Improving animal welfare worldwide

Member Countries brought their support to the new ‘Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare' proposed by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), a consortium of 200 non-governmental organisations which is also a permanent member of the OIE international working group on animal welfare.

Furthermore, a memorandum of understanding with WSPA was signed stressing on an increased collaboration between the two parties.

Bluetongue, rabies: adapting to new diseases events and needs of the international community

Based on the unprecedented outbreaks of bluetongue in northern Europe in 2006, the code chapter on the disease was updated. It now extends the potential geographic presence of the disease.

The session validated the Platelia Rabies II diagnostic kit of Bio-Rad laboratory, the first diagnostic kit to undergo the new validation and certification procedure for diagnostic assays and to appear on the OIE assays register.

Global veterinary expertise

The international Committee accredited the application of four new Collaborating Centres and 14 Reference Laboratories, bringing the OIE global network to a number of 199.

Two technical items were presented and debated during the Session and gave rise to Resolutions passed by the International Committee:

•  The use of epidemiological models for the management of animal diseases;

•  The role of Reference Laboratories and Collaborating Centres in providing permanent support for the objectives and mandates of the OIE.

The worldwide zoosanitary situation has been examined in detail . The International Committee confirmed the world situation for highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 stabilised but recommended to remain vigilant.

Consistent with the framework of its usual standard-setting activities, the Committee updated and adopted new international standards, aimed at providing better safeguards for the sanitary safety of world trade, as well as guidelines to better implement surveillance of animal diseases and zoonoses in countries.

Missions were conducted in 19 Member Countries using the Performance, Vision and Strategy tool (PVS) with the support of several key donors in the course of the year.

Approximately 600 participants representing the 168 Member Countries, intergovernmental (FAO, WHO, World Bank, WTO etc.), regional and national organisations took part in the event. The Session was honoured by the presence of high-ranking authorities, including numerous Ministers of OIE Member Countries.

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