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OIE President Dr Barry O’Neil address to Opening Ceremony  
   

PRESS RELEASE
76th Annual General Assembly
of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)
25 – 30 May 2008

OIE work will bring small farmers worldwide to fully take on their role of first sentinels in the fight against animal diseases.
Delegates of OIE 172 Member Countries and Territories, gathered within the organisation’s General Assembly, called for small farmers to rally in the surveillance and early detection of animal diseases.
“Their role is crucial as key partners of Veterinary Services to early detection of disease outbreaks. Training programmes must be organised to efficaciously associate them to this task,” OIE Director General Dr Bernard Vallat said.

Food security
The International Committee stressed the strong link existing between the fight against hunger around the world and the fight against animal diseases in particular developing countries and consequently between food security and animal health. A specific resolution was adopted.
The International Committee also reemphasized the importance of the OIE mandate relating to food safety at the production level.

Official OIE sanitary status recognition of Members
Delegates of the Members approved the 2008 list of countries or zones that had applied for an official OIE recognition of their sanitary status concerning one or several of the four priority diseases: bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), foot and mouth disease, contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP) and rinderpest.

“Applications are studied following a very democratic process that involves renowned international experts, the elected members of the OIE Scientific Commission for Animal Diseases and finally, possibility for all 172 Members Delegates to put all propositions in question,” Dr Bernard Vallat reminded the members of the General Assembly.

This year the OIE recognized a record number of sanitary statuses on BSE. Following the recognition of 30 Members this week, the OIE now recognizes 41 Members as having a “controlled risk” or a “negligible risk” status.
The OIE is the sole world organisation to grant an official status on freedom from specified animal diseases including BSE.

Five Members or zones of Members were newly recognized as free of FMD with or without vaccination.

The OIE granted 13 new national free statuses on rinderpest. The organisation reiterated the objective, shared with the FAO, to declare the world free of rinderpest in the short term.

OIE Members required to share HPAI biological information through the OFFLU network
Delegates adopted a resolution requiring Members reporting outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza to rapidly share biological material and data with the international scientific community. Members are encouraged to use the OIE/FAO OFFLU network as a way of generating and disseminating this information, thus allowing the early preparation of human vaccines.
The Session further insisted that it is mandatory for all OIE Reference Laboratories to gather, process, analyse and disseminate epidemiological data concerning the disease they are responsible for.

Global animal disease notification
The worldwide zoosanitary situation, covering around 100 terrestrial and aquatic animal diseases, was examined in detail during the meeting.

Notification of disease outbreaks from Members has dramatically improved worldwide thanks to the new online notification system WAHIS inaugurated in 2006. “Two years after its launch, WAHIS meets all expectations regarding the swiftness, number and quality of notification reports coming from countries. The world epidemiological situation is evidently better monitored today,” said Dr Bernard Vallat.

Improving national Veterinary Services and expanding the OIE scientific network
In line with its commitment to improve animal health governance worldwide by evaluating at least 105 national veterinary services around the world by 2010, the organisation reported the details of 54 evaluation missions already conducted using the Performance of Veterinary Services tool (PVS). The past and future missions have the support of several international donors.

The international Committee accredited the application of five new Collaborating Centres and eight Reference Laboratories, bringing the OIE global network of scientific expertise to a number of 208.
This network provides OIE Members all updated control animal disease methods permanently.

Plus, the interest in the OIE Twining Initiative concept of laboratories is growing from both developed countries and, in-transition and developing countries which can use this path to access the OIE network of excellence.

Nanotechnologies now are subject to OIE standards and guidelines with an addition to the chapter on biotechnology of the OIE Manual of Diagnostic Tests and Vaccines for Terrestrial Animals: “Nanotechnologies in diagnosis and vaccine development”.

New international standards: special attention paid to animal welfare, including aquatic animals
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 worldwide.

Significant standards were also adopted in the field of animal welfare, including a new scientific definition of animal welfare and new guidelines for aquatic animals.

The OIE signed an agreement with the International Poultry Council (IPC) and a new agreement with the International Council for Laboratory Animal Science (ICLAS). The last aims to develop work on the welfare of animals used for scientific research.

Delegates tackled the problem of animal health and animal welfare standards established unilaterally by private companies without direct involvement of governments.

Discussions emphasized again that the World Trade Organization, under the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards, formally mandates the OIE as the reference organisation responsible for establishing international standards relating to animal diseases, including zoonoses.

Approximately 600 participants representing the 172 Member Countries and Territories, 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.


Contact : Maria Zampaglione
OIE - Communication Department
Tel: 33 (0) 1 44 15 18 88
Fax: 33 (0) 1 42 67 09 87
m.zampaglione@oie.int