Nearly 900 participants representing the 180 Member Countries of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), as well as numerous public and private international, governmental, regional and national organisations. attended the 83rd General Session of the World Assembly of Delegates at the OIE in Paris at the end of May.
The annual event provides an opportunity to review the current global landscape with regard to animal diseases, including those transmissible to humans and to analyse new technology for collection and diffusion of health information.
First female director-general for OIE
For the first time, a woman was elected to lead the OIE. Former OIE deputy director-general and French veterinarian Dr Monique Eloit (pictured right) will take up the baton – and her five year term – on 1 January 2016 from the former director-general Dr Bernard Vallat. He is retiring after three consecutive five year terms and 15 years at the directorate-general.
New members were elected by the World Assembly , each for a three year term of office from 1 June 2015. The new president of the OIE Council is Dr Botihe Michael Modisane of South Africa.
There are two Kiwis amongst the appointments Dr Stuart McDiarmid, the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI)’s principal international adviser risk analysis, has been appointed as vice-president of the specialist Code Commission. This is responsible for ensuring that the provisions of the Terrestrial Animal Health Code (Terrestrial Code) reflect current scientific information on the protection of international trade and surveillance and control methods for animal diseases and zoonoses. It prepares draft texts for new or revised standards for the Terrestrial Code.
The second is Matt Stone, MPI’s director animal and animal products, who has been appointed for the term as secretary-general for the OIE Asia, Far-East and Oceania regional commission.
OIE standards and guidelines adopted and updated
OIE delegates adopted or revised OIE standards and guidelines on terrestrial and aquatic animal disease prevention and control on diagnostic methods, vaccine quality and on animal welfare. Amongst those were:
- An important update of the chapter on foot and mouth disease was approved, the fruit of several years’ work by the OIE’s Scientific Commission and Terrestrial Animal Health Standards Commission. The new provisions are designed to limit restrictions on international trade while maintaining its safety, by placing greater importance on zoning and compartmentalisation procedures.
- A specific provision relating to atypical forms of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was adopted. It is designed to minimise the impact of their detection on the official status of the countries concerned, the detection and reporting of atypical cases simply relfecting their highly effective surveillance systems.
- The OIE is constantly looking at ways to improve animal welfare. A new chapter on the welfare of dairy cattle was added to the already wide range of standards relating to the welfare of terrestrial and aquatic animals, in particular with regard to animal production systems.
- A new definition of ‘biosecurity’, an increasingly important means of reducing the spread of certain epizootic diseases, was incorporated into the Terrestrial Code. The definition was adopted unanimously by OIE Member Countries.
The status of member countries with respect to priority diseases was examined with a view to granting official recognition. Among those, six European countries were recognised as having negligible BSE risk, while the Philippines was recognised as “foot and mouth disease-free where vaccination is not practised’. New zones were officially recognised as free from the disease, either with or without vaccination, in Ecuador, Kazakhstan (the first time an Eastern European country has achieved this status) and Botswana.
Other work included the development of a new platform aimed at optimising the collection and analysis of the genetic dynamics of animal pathogens.
The OIE delegates also repeated their commitment to strengthen the governance of Veterinary Services in all countries and to implement the resolutions adopted.
More recently, OIE and the World Organisation for Customs (WCO) joined forces for a safer and more secure planet, with the heads of each organisation signing a revised Co-operation Agreement. The revised agreement aims to strengthen cooperation between the two organisations and boost collaboration between national Customs Administrations and Veterinary Services on the ground around the world, in particular for Co-ordinated Border Management in the context of the newly adopted Trade Facilitation Agreement of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).