The Observatory is a transversal programme that provides an overview of the uptake of international standards on animal health and welfare and veterinary public health by our Members. It contributes to the progressive improvement of their implementation as well as to the constant assessment of our corporate initiatives by providing valuable feedback and recommendations.

What is the Observatory?  

Developing international standards for animal health and welfare based on the latest scientific information lies at the heart of our mandate. Our standards are not legally binding. Yet, when our Members vote for their adoption at the WOAH annual General Session, they commit to translating them into their national legislation. 

This being said, the implementation of our standards at country level can involve challenges, such as the lack of financial, human resources or the relevant infrastructures. As a matter of fact, the extent to which they are put into practice remains unclear. To have an insight into the uptake of international standards by our Members, a new programme has been established: the Observatory.  

The Observatory is a continuous and systematic mechanism designed to analyse the implementation of our international standards by using information regularly collected by various activities, as well as external sources.   

This monitoring framework will eventually increase the engagement of our Members and key stakeholders in compliance with the standards. Following a testing phase, the first Observatory outputs were published in 2022 whereas the programme is expected to reach full speed in 2025.  

A data-driven approach for stronger animal health systems

Today’s digital revolution has opened a whole new world of possibilities to improve the sustainability of animal health systems. At the same time, the need for data has never been greater. Reliable data support national authorities and the international community in risk management and evidence-based decision-making. This is a key asset for building stronger terrestrial and aquatic animal health systems worldwide and achieving  improved global health. 

The Observatory is a data-driven programme as well as a key component of our digital transformation. The quality of the data provided by our Members and collected from external sources will allow the identification of specific needs for each country and suggest improvements in the Organisation’s standard-setting process as well as other relevant activities.

The Observatory also contributes to demonstrating the value of a rule-based international system, in a context where it is challenged. By increasing transparency on the standards’ uptake, the Observatory supports the progressive harmonisation of national sanitary rules to protect animal health and welfare as well as international trade. The mechanism will therefore prove beneficial to governments, the private sector and civil society alike. 

Why monitor the implementation of standards?

To better support our Members in a global context where cross-border issues are becoming increasingly complex, threatening the erosion of trust between trading partners, the Observatory’s reports on how its international standards are put into practice. 

 Monitoring the implementation of Standards pursues various purposes:

Identifying what challenges our Members face in implementing standards

Supporting Members in their efforts to put standards into practice 

Identifying success stories around standards and promoting their implementation 

Ensuring that standards are fit for purpose by taking the findings back into the standard-setting process
Identifying areas of improvement and proposing solutions to processes or services offered to Members that may not be fully answering their needs

How does the Observatory work?

Collecting Data

  • Retrieving data from existing data sets (internal or external)
  • Gathering new, ad hoc data when relevant
  • Cleaning data

Monitoring indicators

  • Selecting indicators
  • Annually measuring indicators and trends
  • Progressively refining indicators

Drawing evidence-based decisions

  • Understanding the challenges faced by our Members in implementing standards
  • Evaluating the relevance and efficiency of standards
  • Identifying gaps in the implementation of standards and in the suitability of our processes and services. 
  • Making concrete recommendations

Disseminating information

  • Using data visualisation to present intelligence that can inform decision-making, while preserving confidentiality
  • Encouraging better quality data submission

Rolling out strategies

  • Enhancing the data management system and our services
  • Identifying capacity building needs to strengthen standards implementation

The Monitoring Report: one of the key deliverables from the Observatory

The Monitoring Report presents a systematic overview of the implementation of a broad selection of WOAH standards at global level. Whilst this report was initially conceived to be published annually, in the future the Observatory plans to publish it every five years, in order to align it with the development of WOAH’s five year strategic plans. The findings presented in the Monitoring Report provide valuable insights into WOAH’s processes and Members’ adherence to standards. They also raise awareness of some of the existing gaps in the implementation of standards and offer a number of recommendations for both the Organisation and its Members.

Discover here the first Monitoring Report, alongside the dashboards and executive summaries related to each of its section.

  • Standard monitoring data indicators - Observatory Annual Report

    Implementation of standards: the Observatory Annual Report

    The international standards developed by the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) contribute to the improvement of animal health, animal welfare and veterinary public health, and facilitate safe trade while avoiding unjustified trade barriers. It is of major importance to understand the level of implementation of WOAH standards and identify barriers to implementation.

The thematic studies: a complementary approach to gain insights on the implementation of WOAH standards

In addition to the Annual Report, the Observatory conducts thematic studies each focusing on a different priority topic for the Organisation and our Members, such as a particular disease, standard or topic of interest. The thematic studies collect and use new data to provide a more detailed understanding on the level of implementation of one or more standards and, above all, the challenges our Members may face when implementing them. This allows us to identify the specific needs of our Members and propose targeted recommendations to meet them.

  • Observatory Thematic Study_ A herd of cattle and their reflection on water

    The Observatory’s thematic studies

    The thematic studies are a key deliverable of the Observatory. They focus on priority topics for the Organisation and its Members, such as a particular disease, standard or topic of interest. New data are collected to offer deep insights into the extent of implementation of one or more standards. They also highlight some challenges that Members may encounter while implementing international standards.

Observatory’s other contribution: barriers to the implementation of WOAH Standards for aquatic animal health

As part of its role as a standard-setting organisation, WOAH adopts standards to improve aquatic animal health and welfare worldwide, and facilitate safe trade. For aquatic animal health, these standards are presented in the Aquatic Animal Health Code (the Aquatic Code) and the Manual of Diagnostic Tests for Aquatic Animals (the Aquatic Manual). The implementation of these science-based standards falls within the responsibility of Members and contributes to the improvement of aquatic animal health globally. 

The Observatory coordinated a survey of WOAH Members to improve our knowledge of the level of implementation of WOAH standards for aquatic animal health and to better understand the barriers that may hinder implementation. In 2021, WOAH launched its first Global Aquatic Animal Health Strategy (the Aquatic Strategy), which includes 23 specific activities. The survey focused on Member feedback to address the following activities: 

Identification of barriers to the implementation of standards (Activity 1.5) 
Support for the implementation of standards (Activity 2.1) 
Identification of barriers to transparency in disease reporting (Activity 2.4) 
Increased use of the Performance of Veterinary Services (PVS) Pathway (Activity 2.2) 
Support for WOAH Delegates and Focal Points (Activity 2.6).

How can you access the survey results?

The report and dashboard summarise the main findings of the survey and proposes some recommendations to both WOAH and its Members.

The degree of implementation of WOAH standards varies from region to region and from Member to Member. Identifying obstacles to implementation is an important objective of both the Aquatic Strategy and the WOAH Observatory. The data collected on a regular basis by WOAH and other partners was deemed insufficient to achieve this objective. This is why a survey was conducted among Members to identify obstacles to transparent reporting of aquatic animal diseases and full implementation of WOAH’s aquatic animal health standards.

In addition to the report, this interactive dashboard offers a visual guide on the findings of the survey. Consult the dashboard to find out more.

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