Paris, 27 May 2021 – Namibia and the Philippines are the first two countries with OIE-endorsed official control programmes for dog-mediated rabies. It is the first time that OIE Members could apply for such approbation by the OIE World Assembly. This is a great move forward in the fight against this disease which still kills nearly 60,000 people every year. Having gathered evidence that their official control programmes comply with OIE international Standards, Namibia and the Philippines will be able to advocate for support from their governments to progressively prevent and control the disease. The ultimate objective will be to eventually eliminate the disease from their territories and self-declare its freedom, thus contributing to the ‘Zero by 30’ global goal to eliminate human deaths from dog-mediated rabies.
OIE Members can submit on a voluntary basis their official control programmes for four diseases for endorsement by the OIE. They can also apply for the official recognition of animal health status for six priority diseases. Applications are reviewed through a very detailed process, which evaluates the sanitary measures in place and compliance of the Member with the OIE international Standards. In some cases, in-country missions are conducted. In the current particular context linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, some adaptations have been made to ensure the continuity in the evaluation of countries applications, notably thanks to the implementation of virtual interviews. The recognition of official disease status plays a key role in the livestock economy of countries as it contributes to facilitate regional and international trade of animals and animal products, notably in the context of negotiations according to the SPS Agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO).