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Selected regional organizations
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
FAO is the United Nations agency responsible for agricultural development and food production. Within the Agriculture Department, the Animal Production and Health Division (AGA), deals with livestock development. It includes the Animal Health Service (AGAH), whose main role is to assist member countries in the control of animal diseases with the objective of improving livestock production as an integral component of general social, economic and agricultural development. The highest priority is given to developing countries, particularly those in Africa. This assistance is provided through FAO Regular Programme activities or FAO-operated field projects funded by various agencies, including the FAO Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP).
The assistance of the AGAH Regular Programme concerns a great variety of activities, such as expert consultations, individual consultancies, research contracts, technical publications, training/education, provision of technical advice and international coordination. This covers many technical aspects, including the development of veterinary personnel through veterinary education, strengthening of animal health services and infrastructures, development of diagnostic and vaccine production laboratories, improvement of legislation, information on animal diseases through the publication of the FAO/WHO/OIE Animal Health Yearbook and the economics of animal diseases.
Efforts have been undertaken to reinforce the network of reference laboratories and collaborating centres for specific diseases and other animal health problems of international importance and to promote the application of biotechnology, particularly for animal disease diagnosis and vaccine production.
In addition, special programmes are being implemented in cooperation with other relevant organizations to control major animal diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease, rinderpest, trypanosomiasis, tick-borne diseases or such emergency diseases as African swine fever, Rift Valley fever and screwworm. Recently AGAH launched a new programme dealing with helminth parasitoses and other non-infectious diseases, such as nutritional, reproduction, genetic diseases, toxicoses, environmental and hygienic deficiencies, etc., which cause enormous losses in quantity and quality of food of animal origin.
AGAH is also responsible for technical backstopping of field projects such as specific veterinary projects or projects having animal health components at the national, subregional or regional levels. These projects of different duration in almost 100 countries have a total budget of about US$100 million from different sources: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); Government Cooperative Programmes (GCP); FAO Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) and others; United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNO); Unilateral Trust Fund (UTF), etc. At the end of 1989, AGAH was involved in 209 projects of which 148 in operation and 19 in pipeline were under AGAH as leading service. In these FAO field projects, 54 international long-term experts, 12 associate professional officers and about 50 short-term consultants were working together with their rational counterparts in 1989.
Other FAO units are also involved in the animal health programme: the Animal Production Service (AGAP) for nutrition, reproduction and genetic aspects; the Meat and Dairy Service (AGAM) for food hygiene; the Joint FAO/International Atomic Energy Agency Division (AGE) for nuclear techniques in agriculture; the Food Policy and Nutrition Division (ESN) for food quality (Codex Alimentarius); and the regional offices for collaboration with member countries and regional organizations.
The number of FAO member countries has reached 160, or almost all the countries in the world.
FAO: European Commission for the Control of Foot-and-Mouth Disease
The Commission was founded in 1954 in response to the widespread epidemics of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in Europe in the early 1950s. By 1988, 27 European countries were members of the Commission.
The Commission is an autonomous body within FAO, with its headquarters in Rome. Among the Commission's major functions and duties are to collect and disseminate information on FMD outbreaks and to help member countries diagnose, control and prevent the disease. It registers available virus stocks for use in vaccine production and monitors the evolution of FMD, especially in regions from which the disease could spread to Europe.
The Commission meets every two years to review progress, decide on future activities and elect an executive committee. It works in close collaboration with FAO, OIE, Pan American Centre for FMD Control, the European Economic Community and the World Reference Laboratory, Pirbright, United Kingdom, which was established in 1957.
A research group was set up in 1956. It studies and reports to the Commission on problems in the fields of diagnosis, virus characterization, epidemiology, vaccine production and security requirements, etc.
Since the Commission was founded, the incidence of FMD in Europe has dramatically declined from 900 000 cases in 1951-53 to nil in 1990. This illustrates the benefits to be gained from active collaboration between countries in a region to combat a highly infectious disease.
World Health Organization (WHO)
In most WHO member countries, the public health significance of zoonoses increases in correlation with the density of the animal population, the degree of urbanization, the industrialization of husbandry and the international trade in animals and animal products. The following diseases receive particular attention: rabies, enteric bacterial zoonoses, brucellosis and echinococcosis, as well as some infections of more regional and local importance, such as anthrax, leptospirosis, equine encephalitis, Rift Valley fever and toxoplasmosis.
Emphasis is placed on the promotion of national and international programmes for the elimination of rabies in major urban areas and also its elimination in wildlife species in certain areas. The technology is available for ecological studies of reservoir animal species in order to carry out mass immunization and disease surveillance, and the managerial processes are well-defined.
The incidence of enteric bacterial zoonoses is increasing sharply because of the inadequacy of hygiene in the mass production and slaughter of food animals, particularly poultry. This negative trend is being partly counteracted by research into and the development of new technologies for eliminating infection and microbial and parasitic contamination in primary animal production. These new technologies should at the same time help remedy the negative effects of antibiotics on resistance patterns in microorganisms, as well as decrease environmental pollution, by reducing the need for antibiotics used in animal husbandry.
In all areas of the zoonoses programme WHO cooperates closely with animal health services. Although the number of veterinarians is approaching target levels, or even exceeding them in most developing countries, there are few schemes for specialization and continuing education. The neglect of this basic need in national services calls into question the possibility of achieving lasting results through technology transfer- a point that deserves the increasing attention of member countries and WHO.
National zoonoses control programmes are being supported through a range of technical approaches (e.g. preparation and distribution of guiding principles, promotion of research, information/technology transfer, personnel training and the mobilization of resources) in order to reduce the incidence and prevalence of zoonoses, with the ultimate aim of preventing these diseases in man.
Collaboration has been strengthened with FAO, the World Veterinary Association and its subsidiary specialized associations and the OIE to improve disease surveillance and control and to cooperate with member countries in developing national schemes for continuing veterinary education.
International Office of Epizootics (OIE)
The OIE currently incorporates 114 member countries from all continents. Its role is to organize intergovernmental cooperation in order to:
prevent the spread of contagious diseases of animals;
assist the development of animal production through improved health information;
contribute to development by sharing scientific progress;
ensure that international trade in animals and animal products is governed by technically justified health conditions;
provide national veterinary services, which are the instrument of this cooperation with recommendations for operating efficiently.
The OIE operates under an international committee that is formed by delegates from member countries. It meets once a year at the OIE headquarters in Paris.
The administrative commission, made up of the president of the international committee and eight other delegates from member countries represents the committee between annual meetings.
Five regional commissions have been set up to study specific problems of the following regions: Africa, America, Asia/Southwest Pacific, Europe, Near East. Regular conferences of the regional commissions are convened in alternate years in a country of the particular region.
The scientific support of the organization is ensured by specialist commissions and working groups, which are as follows:
International Animal Health Code Commission
Commission for FMD and Other Epizootics
Fish Diseases Commission (including molluscs and crustaceans)
Veterinary Drug Registration
System of Information
Scientific symposiums or seminars are organized whenever it appears useful to update knowledge on a specific subject.
Close relationships have been established between OIE and other international organizations dealing with animal health matters, especially FAO, WHO and IICA (Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture).
World Veterinary Association (WVA)
WVA was founded in 1959 as a continuation of the Permanent Committee for International Veterinary Congresses.
Aims: Unify the veterinary profession throughout the world by providing a central link for national associations; organize and hold congresses; promote all branches of veterinary science by all appropriate means; help improve veterinary education; promote the standing of the profession; and establish relations with organizations whose interests are related to the purposes of the association.
Structure: Congress (every four years), permanent committee elects president and vice-presidents who, with the secretary-treasurer, constitute the executive bureau.
Activities: Exchange of information on matters of veterinary interest; collection and distribution of information on films; and establishment of a uniform nomenclature.
Publications. Informative Bulletin of the WVA (quarterly); World Catalogue of Veterinary Films Video Tapes.
Members: National, associate, affiliated and honorary; national members (national organizations or groups of national organizations) in 72 countries.
Associate members: 18.
Asia and the Pacific
Animal Production and Health Commission (APHCA). The APHCA has been operational since 1975, with its headquarters at the FAO regional office in Bangkok. Its overall objective is to create a common forum for developing strategies to solve important problems of livestock agriculture, based on the principles of "collective self-reliance" and "mutual assistance" or the concept of Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC).
The APHCA collects animal disease information on a regular basis, which it compiles and disseminates to all member countries as the FAO/APHCA Animal Information Services on a monthly as well as a quarterly basis. Reports on any unexpected outbreaks of emergency diseases such as rinderpest and FMD in the region, once received from the APHCA permanent delegate (usually the Chief Veterinary Officer) of the country, are quickly forwarded to all concerned countries.
The APHCA also operates the APHCA Vaccine Bank. During each annual session of APHCA, donor member countries (all developing countries) pledge to reserve locally produced vaccines, which are ready for supply in case of an emergency request from other member countries. During 1990, India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka pledged the supply of 140 000 doses of FMD vaccine (monovalent basis), while Bangladesh, India and Pakistan offered to supply a total of 110 000 doses of rinderpest tissue culture vaccine. Bangladesh and Thailand also reserve duck plague vaccine (100 000 doses) for emergencies in member countries.
Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). ASEAN is a regional economic body consisting of six Southeast Asian countries (Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand). Through its Technical Committee on Food, Agriculture and Fisheries (ASEAN-COFAF), it has established a mechanism to endorse the disease-free status of a member country or, as is often the case, a territory of a country. For example, declaration of FMD-free status is very important to promote livestock trade in the region. However, declaration by a country and its acceptance by other countries may be different matters. International organizations such as FAO and OIE have no mandate to endorse a country's disease-free status. In this regard, ASEAN-COFAF's action is significant. Upon the request of a member country, ASEAN-COFAF sends to the country a survey mission consisting of senior veterinary officers from each ASEAN member country. The FAO regional office, on request from ASEAN-COFAF, may send one expert as a member of the survey team. Based on the recommendation of the survey mission, ASEAN as a whole endorses a member country's disease status at its agriculture minister's level. In the past, some parts of territories of Malaysia and the Philippines have been endorsed as FMD-free by ASEAN.
Inter-African Bureau of Animal Resources (IBAR). The most important organization dealing with livestock in Africa is the Inter-African Bureau of Animal Resources. Its headquarters is in Nairobi, Kenya. IBAR is a technical branch of the Organization of African Unity (OAU).
IBAR periodically issues Bulletin of Animal Health and Production, which contains technical and scientific articles concerning disease control, research and animal production. It also issues monthly animal health statistics giving the status of the major contagious animal diseases in Africa, accompanied by information leaflets briefing professionals on various selected topics.
Every two years IBAR organizes a meeting of the African ministers in charge of livestock production through the General Secretariat of OAU. As well, it sponsors the International Scientific Council for Trypanosomiasis Research and Control.
At present IBAR is coordinating the Pan-African Rinderpest Campaign (PARC), which aims to eradicate rinderpest in Africa.
Subregional intergovernmental organizations. There are not less than ten subregional intergovernmental organizations in Africa that at least partly deal with livestock issues. One example is the Cattle and Meat Economic Community based in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, which comprises Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, the Niger and Togo.
Latin America and the Caribbean
Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO). PAHO supports the veterinary public health services concerning zoonoses and sanitary inspection of livestock and fishery products. Through the Pan-American Foot-and-Mouth Disease Center, services such as training, distribution of standardized diagnostic reagents, identification of biological specimens, vaccine quality control and publication of standardized techniques are provided to the animal health services. The Pan-American Zoonoses Center provides reference services related to zoonoses.
Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA). IICA has implemented an Animal Health and Plant Protection Programme, providing technical assistance to the veterinary services through regional mechanisms such as the Inter-American Laboratories Network, Animal and Plant Health Information and Monitoring Network, the Caribbean Animal and Plant Health Information Network and through national projects on those matters requested by the governments.
Regional Organization for Animal and Plant Health (OIRSA). OIRSA supports the veterinary service activities of Mexico and Central American countries through specific regional activities such as the Regional Programme for the Management and Control of the Africanized Bee and the Programme on Epidemiological Research on Blue Tongue Virus in the Region, as well as local disease-control activities requested by the governments.
Inter-American Cooperation Group on Animal Health (GICSA). Since 1984, all international organizations acting in support of the veterinary services on the American continents have held annual meetings of the Inter-American Cooperation Group on Animal Health (GICSA) in order to exchange information, avoid duplication and promote complementary support of specific activities. The GICSA comprises the Pan-American Health Organization, the Pan-American Zoonoses Center, the Pan-American Foot-and-Mouth Disease Center, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture, the International Office of Epizootics and the Regional Organization for Animal and Plant Health.
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