The 30th Conference of the World Organisation for Animal Health’s (OIE) Regional Commission for Asia, the Far East and Oceania, whose composition totals 36 Members, was held in Putrajaya, Malaysia, from 20th to 24th November 2017. His Excellency Datuk Seri Dr Ismail Hj. Bakar, Secretary General of the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro Based Industry welcomed the participants and officially opened the conference on behalf of H.E. Dato’ Sri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, Minister of Agriculture and Agro Based Industry.
The event gathered national Delegates and/or their representatives of 19 Members of the OIE Regional Commission for Asia, the Far East and Oceania, representatives of international and regional organisations involved in animal and veterinary public health activities and numerous other experts, including representatives from the public health sector and private sector as observers.
A key point of the Conference was to discuss the progress made in the implementation of the OIE 6th Strategic Plan 2016-2020. Having emphasised in her Opening speech the animal diseases related-risks in the region, Dr Monique Eloit, OIE Director General then underlined the key issues relevant to the region for each strategic objective, namely the reinforcement of transparency on the sanitary situation, the improvement of animal health and welfare by appropriate risk management and the strengthening of national Veterinary Services for a better governance.
A more detailed presentation made by the Bureau of Regional Commission allowed to better identify the successes as well as the domains for which improvements are needed. Furthermore, Dr Eloit highlighted the importance of improving the implementation of OIE international standard and she introduced the new OIE initiative aiming at a better understanding of the level of implementation of OIE standards by Members, named the OIE Observatory. An infographic describing the project is available here. To support the development of this Observatory, the national Delegates are called to complete the related questionnaire which will provide a better overview of their challenges through an analysis presented in the Technical Item I of the upcoming General Session, in May 2018. This information will be precious to provide support to the Members for a better involvement in the standard-setting process.
Regional Conferences provide an excellent opportunity to conduct in-depth discussions of issues of regional interest regarding animal health and welfare. Dr Eloit congratulated the region for establishing an excellent coordination, which makes it used as a model of work coordination by other OIE regions.
Regional and Inter-regional cooperation between Members is highly recommended to ensure regional harmonised approaches to disease control strategies in order to stop their spread, thus ensuring the development of international trade in the region. Members were in particular encouraged to ensure transparent and timely notifications by nominating National Focal Points for Aquatic Animals, considering the importance of aquatic animal diseases to this geographical area. The fisheries industry is critically important to global and national economies. Yet, the region is facing severe aquatic animal health issues such as the threat from acute hepatopancreatic necrosis disease and tilapia lake virus, for which the importance of the continuing reporting was highlighted.
Furthermore, participants were provided with detailed information, analyses, and trends on the priority animal diseases of Asia, the Far East and Oceania, collected through the OIE World Animal Health Information System (WAHIS). They were recalled to continue the timely reporting of outbreaks of infection with avian influenza viruses, in particular considering the associated risk for human health, as well as reporting outbreaks in wildlife, to ensure a clearer epidemiological understanding of the disease situation while avoiding any unjustified impact on trade in poultry and poultry products.
Lastly, countries were encouraged to intensify their involvement in the fight against antimicrobial resistance, the control of animal diseases, notably Peste des petits ruminants, rabies and foot and mouth disease and the implementation of the regional animal welfare strategy.
OIE authorities and conference participants thanked Malaysia for its hospitality.
The conference was kindly hosted by the Malaysian Government.