Preventing animal disease has far-reaching benefits

by Meat&Poultry staff
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PARIS – Pathogens of zoonotic nature transmitted by domestic or wild animals cause more than 60 percent of human infectious diseases worldwide, according to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). There is a growing global threat to human and animal health, food security, food safety, poverty reduction and biodiversity due to the evolution of new and re-emerging pathogens resulting from a multitude of factors. As a result, preventing diseases at their animal source is crucial for protecting human health.

Global health is a shared responsibility of both animal and human health authorities -- that requires the cooperation of all countries plus an intersectoral approach. Countries must be equipped with effective and well-organized national health systems that operate under the principles of good governance to best monitor animal and public health, OIE said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and OIE are the reference intergovernmental organizations for public and animal health. They develop, publish and constantly review intergovernmental regulations and standards for disease prevention and control methods -- as well as regarding the quality of national animal and public health systems.

Coordinating effective standards implementations at the national, regional and global levels with an efficient cooperation between Veterinary and Public Health Services is among the most critical factor for controlling health hazards worldwide.

WHO and the OIE relays they are committed to support their member countries to strengthen their capacity to comply with both OIE intergovernmental standards and WHO International Health Regulations (IHR). They have developed frameworks and tools to help member countries to assess the capacities of their animal and human-health sectors, enabling the identification of gaps and leading to the definition of appropriate strategies.

This is the goal of the OIE’s Performance of Veterinary Services (PVS) Pathway. It is through this process that the OIE assists its 180 member countries to sustainably improve their veterinary services’ compliance with OIE intergovernmental standards on quality, while supporting member countries to formulate their internal or external financial requests for appropriate resources allowing to comply with international standards.

With the support of the World Bank, and of the European Union (Avian and Human Influenza Facility, with the World Bank acting as administrator of this Trust Fund), the WHO and the OIE have developed the guide to assist member countries develop better coordinated programs to address national health risks at the human-animal interface. The guide also provides a comprehensive overview and understanding of all the tools available in the context of the IHR Monitoring Framework and the OIE PVS Pathway and explains how to use these tools to create bridges and meet “One Health” objectives, of which the OIE and the WHO are active promoters with the support of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

During the past year, the OIE and WHO have organized a series of national pilot workshops with national key players to assess preliminary results in real conditions. “Our joint WHO-OIE national workshops have been proven to facilitate better cooperation between public health authorities and Veterinary Services,” said declares Dr. Bernard Vallat, OIE director general. “Ebola, influenza and West Nile Virus are all diseases of animal origin. They have emerged first in developing countries which have not had the capacity to implement the OIE standards to detect, prevent and respond to these diseases. With appropriate support in the management of health risks at the human-animal interface, animal and public health systems can be sustainably improved, hence efficiently preventing global health risks.”
Both organizations are considering expanding implementing more national workshops worldwide.

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