Global Heath Security Agenda: Moving forward to a safer world

Twelve months after the White House meeting in September 2014, the Global Health Security Agenda High Level Meeting in Seoul (Rep. of Korea) on 7-9 September 2015 provided the opportunity to take stock of the progress made and re-affirm the future steps to be achieved within the Agenda. Once again, GHSA participating countries were called upon to make an effort to strengthen their existing national health systems and to fully and rapidly comply with international standards and obligations including the WHO International Health Regulations (IHR) and quality of veterinary services using existing tools, notably the OIE’s Performance of Veterinary Services Pathway (PVS) and global information systems such as OIE/WAHIS, with regards to animal health.

Barack Obama’s (President of the United States of America) recorded message at the Opening of the GHSA High Level Meeting, in presence of numerous Ministers of Health and Animal health, and high representatives of international organizations, including the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
©OIE/A. Dehove
From right to left at the tribune: Dr Brian Evans – OIE Deputy Director General. Mr Timothy G. Evans – World Bank’s Director for Health, Nutrition and Population, Dr Juan Lubroth, FAO’s Chief Veterinary Officer.

Paris, 11 September 2015 – MERS-CoV, Ebola or Avian influenza are recent examples of diseases (all of animal origin) which have shown that the capacity of countries to prevent, detect and respond to these outbreaks was not uniform. In addition, with 60% of existing infectious diseases that affect humans and over 75% of newly emerging diseases originating in animals, global human health security cannot be achieved in the absence of the consideration of national animal disease prevention and control systems. Indeed, effective disease control is not only a shared responsibility between the human and animal health public and private sectors but also with numerous other sectors, at the national, regional and global levels.

In an interconnected, interdependent world, the vulnerabilities that exist in one country represent vulnerability for all countries. To address the potential threats to global health and work toward a world safe and secure from infectious disease, the Ministers and stakeholders involved in the GHSA gathered for the fifth time since 2014 at a High Level Meeting in Seoul (Rep. of Korea) on 7-9 September 2015. The OIE, as an advisor to the GHSA Steering Committee, reaffirmed its commitment to continue contributing to the successful achievement of global health security by dealing in particular with disease emergence and reservoirs in the animal sector and at the animal-human interface.

The OIE has advanced in a considerable number of activities which directly support several of the GHSA action Packages, including the PVS Pathway, capacity-building for national policy makers and successful management of global disease information systems (OIE/WAHIS). These supportive actions contribute to strengthen animal health systems worldwide, though the enhancement of the good governance of Veterinary Services.

Collaborative work has also been at the forefront of OIE actions over the past year and has notably been successfully illustrated in 2015 by the adoption in May of the global action plan on Antimicrobial resistance by the WHO World Assembly, followed one week later by a resolution at the 83rd World Assembly of the 180 Member Countries of the OIE to support its implementation and subsequently by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations as well.

Furthermore, the OIE reaffirmed its commitment to continue contributing to the successful achievement of global health security. Notably critical are the continued deployment of the OIE PVS Pathway, the WHO/OIE Joint National Working Sessions, and the further development of the World Animal health information system (WAHIS). Collaborative work will continue to be a priority for the OIE since as recalled by Dr Brian Evans, “HEALTH is the acronym for Humans, Ecosystems and Animals Living Together Harmoniously”.


Overview of the main advances supporting the GHSA achieved by the OIE since 2014

  • The OIE PVS Pathway is an expert-led objective assessment and analysis of the ability and resources of National Veterinary Services to meet OIE international quality standards. This is the most critical factor in preventing and detecting the spread of dangerous pathogens of animal origin, and of prime importance to the success of the GHSA “Detect” and “Prevent” Action Packages. There have been PVS Pathway Missions conducted by the OIE in 130 countries.
  • Progress has been made in the WHO-IHR / OIE-PVS joint initiative to enable the development of national strategies to enhance capacities in both the human and animal health sectors. In December 2014, the WHO-IHR / OIE-PVS Operational Guide for national Good Governance at the Human-Animal Interface was published. Together, WHO and OIE have now identified a significant number of countries eligible for additional Joint National Working Sessions.
  • The OIE has furthered the knowledge of its global network through the training of OIE National Delegates and National Focal Points, the latter of which includes, among others, Veterinary Laboratory and animal disease Information System National Focal points. Hundreds of national policy makers have already benefited from that initiative.
  • At its World Assembly annual General Session this May, the OIE initiated an expansion and improvement of “WAHIS” – World Animal Health Information System, with the adoption of a Resolution pertaining to “the use of information technology in animal health management, disease reporting, surveillance and emergency response”. 180 OIE Member Countries are committed to report 117 listed-animal diseases (including zoonoses) and emerging events, and this information is immediately shared with GLEWS, the Global Early Warning System, which coordinates alert and disease intelligence mechanisms of OIE, FAO and WHO to assist in prediction, prevention and control of disease threats of animal origin. This new WAHIS expansion will further enhance the reporting of global animal disease information critical to the protection of global health security.
  • The OIE Laboratory Twinning Programme links candidate laboratories in developing or in-transition countries with OIE Reference Laboratories or Collaborating Centres; building their capacity and scientific expertise. It also provides a pathway for the creation of more OIE Reference Laboratories with greater regional and geographic balance. More than 50 twinnings have been established.
  • During this past year, the OIE has worked continuously to collaboratively plan and implement measures to fight anti-microbial resistance. Examples of this collaboration include: OIE contribution to the WHO-led AMR Global Action Plan; revision of the OIE List of Antimicrobial Agents of Veterinary Importance; and importantly, the adoption of updated standards on the prudent use of antibiotics in animals and of an AMR Resolution at its May 2015 World Assembly, to institute an OIE global database on the use of antimicrobial agents in animals in Member Countries as provided for in the WHO Global Action Plan.
  • The OIE has also expanded its efforts to improve animal biosecurity and biosurveillance efforts through its collaboration on issues such as the transport of biological samples, Rinderpest post-eradication measures, biosecurity guidelines for laboratories and the OIE Global Biological Threat Reduction Conference bridging the security and health communities held in Paris in June/July of this year.


Photos:©OIE/A. Dehove