New global intergovernmental standards and guidelines on animal health and welfare

Overview of Resolutions adopted by the Annual World Assembly of Delegates at the 83rd General Session of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)
24-29 May 2015

OIE 83rd General Session

Paris, 29 May 2015 – The 83rd General Session of the Annual World Assembly of Delegates of the OIE was held again this year at Maison de la Chimie, in Paris. As each year, this was the occasion for OIE members to examine and adopt new intergovernmental standards and guidelines aimed at preserving and improving animal health and welfare throughout the world. Nearly 900 participants, representing national Delegates from among the 180 Member Countries of the OIE and around 40 international, intergovernmental, regional and national organisations took part in the event, along with many eminent scientists.

The Opening Ceremony was held in the presence of some thirty Ministers and members of government of OIE Member Countries, as well as key institutional actors, alongside the President of the OIE, Dr Karin Schwabenbauer, and the Director General of the OIE, Dr Bernard Vallat.

Another highlight of the week’s proceedings was the holding of elections to renew all the governance bodies of the Organisation.

At the end of these six days of consultation, the World Assembly adopted 41 Resolutions, based on a democratic vote, each Member Country having one vote.

Election of the OIE Director General and the OIE’s governance bodies

The 83rd General Session was a very special occasion in that all of the OIE’s governance positions were proposed for renewal by means of election by national Delegates.

After three consecutive five-year terms of office and fifteen years at the Directorate General of the OIE, Dr Bernard Vallat will pass the baton to Dr Monique Eloit, currently Deputy Director General, from 1 January 2016, for the coming five-year term. She will be the first woman leading the OIE.

The new members of all the OIE’s governance bodies, namely the Council, the Regional Commissions and the four Specialist Commissions were also elected or re-elected, in each case for a three-year term. The President of the World assembly of Delegates, Dr Botlhe Michael Modisane (South Africa), was also elected for the same period as well as the Vice-President, Dr Mark Schipp (Australia). The newly elected members will shortly be presented on the OIE website.

New intergovernmental standards and guidelines

The OIE Delegates adopted or revised OIE standards and guidelines on terrestrial and aquatic animal disease prevention and control, on diagnostic methods and vaccine quality and on animal welfare.

In total, the World Assembly adopted

  • the revision of 18 Chapters and the addition of 3 new Chapters in the OIE Terrestrial Code
  • the revision of 12 Chapters and the addition of 2 new Chapters in the OIE Aquatic Code.

The main amendments are described below.

Standards relating to terrestrial animal diseases: foot and mouth disease (FMD), infection with taenia solium and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)

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 new chapter on Taenia solium, a type of tapeworm transmissible to humans via contaminated pig meat, was added to the Terrestrial Code. This text constitutes a considerable advance in terms of human health protection in many developing countries.

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 reflecting highly effective surveillance systems.

Standards relating to aquatic animal diseases

Acute hepatopancreatic necrosis disease (AHPND) is now one of the diseases listed by the OIE, bringing to 118 the number of diseases included in this list. AHPND is an emerging disease that can have devastating effects on productivity in farmed shrimp, notably in Asia and Latin America.

A new chapter of recommendations for surface disinfection of salmonid eggs was approved, and a chapter on the control of pathogenic agents in aquatic animal feed was updated.

Standards relating to antimicrobial resistance and animal welfare

The OIE Delegates continued their work on the prevention of antimicrobial resistance and were presented with a proposed update of two OIE Terrestrial Code chapters, namely national antimicrobial resistance surveillance (Chapter 6.7.) and risk analysis for antimicrobial resistance arising from the use of antimicrobials in animals (Chapter 6.10.). The latter topic was also the subject of a new chapter of the Aquatic Code.

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 welfare of terrestrial and aquatic animals, in particular with regard to animal production systems.

Lastly, new terms were incorporated into the Terrestrial Code, such as the definition of “biosecurity”, an increasingly important means of reducing the spread of certain epizootic diseases, such as avian influenza and porcine epidemic diarrhoea. The definition of this term was adopted unanimously by OIE Member Countries.

Animal health situation worldwide

One of the OIE’s key missions is to ensure transparency of the global situation with regard to animal diseases, including zoonoses, and the General Session gave Member Countries the opportunity to exchange information on their national problems in this field. Placing the emphasis on efficient and timely sharing of animal health information, the technical session dealt with the use of new information technology in collecting animal health information, disease reporting, conducting surveillance and emergency response.

Numerous exchanges of views also took place between Member Countries during the week’s proceedings, special attention being given to the current global epizootic of avian influenza, African swine fever, Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and the rabies situation in the world, as well as to cross-cutting issues such as the sanitary safety of food products of animal origin and the strategy for reducing biological threats whatever their origin. An OIE Global Conference on this last topic is due to take place next month, from 30 June to 2 July at Maison de la Chimie, Paris (France).

Animal disease control programmes and official disease status

The status of Member Countries with respect to priority diseases was examined with a view to granting official recognition. OIE Member Countries can apply to be included in the list of countries with an officially recognised status with regard to the following six priority diseases: bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), foot and mouth disease (FMD), contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP), African horse sickness, peste des petits ruminants (PPR) and, since May 2014, classical swine fever (CSF).

At this General Session, a number of new countries or zones of countries obtained official recognition of their status:

  • For the first time, 23 countries were recognised as “free from CSF” in Europe, the Americas, Asia and a zone in Brazil;
  • 4 new countries were recognised as “free from peste des petits ruminants”, as well as a zone in Namibia;
  • Morocco was recognised as “free from African horse sickness”;
  • 6 countries of Europe were recognised as having a “negligible BSE risk”;
  • France was recognised as “free from CBPP”;
  • The Philippines was recognised as “FMD free where vaccination is not practised”. New zones were officially recognised as free from the disease, either with or without vaccination, in Ecuador, Kazakhstan and Botswana;

All of the recognised disease statuses will soon be available online.

In the case of FMD, South America has now almost completely achieved the eradication of the disease, and, for the first time, a country of Eastern Europe, Kazakhstan, has achieved an officially recognised FMD status for a part of its territory.

Member Countries can also apply for official OIE endorsement of their national control programme for FMD, PPR and, from this year, CBPP. Namibia, for example, gained official endorsement of its control programme for CBPP. The OIE endorsed the national control programmes for FMD submitted by the People’s Republic of China, India, Namibia and Venezuela.

In total, more than 50 national applications for official recognition of a given status or endorsement of a control programme were presented for adoption by the World Assembly of Delegates.

Towards a world free from PPR

At the end of the OIE/FAO International Conference for the Control and Eradication of PPR, held in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire) in April 2015, a global strategy was adopted. This strategy was elaborated within the OIE/FAO Global Framework for the Progressive Control of Transboundary Animal Diseases (GF-TADs). The PPR eradication programmes will be modelled on the successful strategy that resulted in the eradication of rinderpest in 2011, based on global and regional coordination under the auspices of the OIE and FAO.

Rinderpest post-eradication phase

Following the adoption, in 2014, by the World Assembly of a legal framework for the approval of facilities holding rinderpest virus-containing material, developed jointly by the OIE and FAO, 5 facilities in 4 countries were approved as ‘rinderpest holding facilities’. This was subsequent to on-site inspections carried out by OIE/FAO teams of experts. Another institute that applied has yet to be inspected with a view to approval in May 2016.

Expert scientific network and new research projects

A new global platform aimed at optimising the collection and analysis of the genetic dynamics of animal pathogens is currently being developed. This will allow major advances to be made in pathogen genotyping by the OIE’s global network of Reference Centres, with the results being stored in a public database integrated into the OIE World Animal Health Information System (WAHIS). This concept was unveiled at the Global Conference of OIE Reference Centres at the end of 2014, which has already served to strengthen the networking of the OIE’s many Reference Centres.

This strong veterinary scientific network continues to grow and the exchange of information between these Centres of excellence is proving decisive for the successes achieved in terms of animal health surveillance around the world. The OIE’s scientific network has been further strengthened by five new Reference Laboratories approved by all the Delegates, bringing the number of official Centres of scientific excellence within the OIE’s global network to more than 300, located in nearly fifty countries on all five continents.

Quality of the Veterinary Services

To improve animal health and welfare throughout the world, the OIE constantly strives to help its Member Countries to strengthen the governance of their animal health systems so that they can all comply with the standards of quality adopted by the World Assembly. The Delegates of the OIE once again repeated their commitment to strengthen the governance of Veterinary Services in all countries and to implement the Resolutions adopted, if necessary with recourse to the support programmes proposed by the OIE through its PVS Pathway, including various programmes of evaluation, costing of required investments, follow-up, modernisation of national legislation and capacity building, such as twinning projects between laboratories, between veterinary education establishments and between Veterinary Statutory Bodies.

The OIE reaffirmed its commitment to support traditional pastoral systems as a factor for development, poverty alleviation and sustainable management of land without crop production alternatives. Effective control of animal diseases in pastoral areas is essential to safeguard the livestock capital of vulnerable populations and preserve their unique know-how. A Global Conference on safeguarding pastoralism is in preparation with OIE support.

All the Resolutions adopted at the 83rd General Session of the OIE will shortly be published on the OIE website.