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Veterinary Congress in Russia: FAO accentuates collaboration to control and eradicate animal diseases

Photo: © FAO

The list of topics for the four-day IX International Veterinary Congress, which opened today in the town of Svetlogorsk, in Russia’s westernmost Kaliningrad Region, was the powerful magnet that attracted experts from over 20 countries and international organizations to this high-status event.

The speakers and participants of the Congress addressed a plethora of burning questions and commented on a broad variety of challenges related to industrial dairy and beef farming, industrial pig breeding and poultry breeding, as well as veterinary support.

The Congress offered a review of the current situation on animal pathogens in Russia and globally, including putative distribution patterns in the coming years. Experts discussed extensively the strategies, management and specific measures to ensure animal welfare, including surveillance, prophylaxis, sanitary and hygiene standards, technological protocols and collaboration among farmers, veterinary experts and administrative bodies.

The speakers also highlighted the issue of eradication and control of particular animal diseases, such as African swine fever and foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).

“Development of the agricultural sector is currently one of the top national priorities, alongside the protection of public health, making high-quality alimentary produce available to the consumer and laying down the foundations for our country's biosecurity. Veterinary medicine is a key element of the agricultural production, crucial not only to preserving animal welfare, but also to safeguarding the nation’s health. As the well-known saying goes, ‘Medicine is a cure for a human being, while veterinary medicine is a cure for humankind’,” Sergei Dankvert, Head of the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance, intoned.

“Collaboration” was the keyword and the main message of the address by Dr. Eran Raizman, FAO Senior Animal Health Officer, FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia. “A more integrated approach to health, the concept of One Health is essential to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, the blueprint to a better and more sustainable future for all, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015,” he said.

“Keeping in mind the One Health approach, all three international agencies – FAO, WHO, OIE – are committed to fighting together against diseases that have direct impact on our livelihoods and health, food security, food safety, nutrition, and natural resources management.”

“Considering that about two thirds of all human infectious diseases are zoonotic, this joint effort is of paramount importance. Further, decades of use and abuse of antibiotics to treat and prevent human and animal diseases have brought us a new enemy in the form of antimicrobial resistance and, with it, new challenges that require joint forces and close collaboration, and coordinating global activities,”  Dr. Raizman concluded.

Dr. Kazimieras Lukauskas, speaking on behalf of OIE Regional Representative highlighted the “significant contribution provided by the scientific community of Russia” in containing outbreaks and spread of transboundary animal diseases.

This contribution is supported by three laboratories, which are recognized as OIE Reference Laboratories (for FMD, Avian Influenza and New Castle Disease). Two Collaborating Centres (one for Diagnosis and Control of Animal Diseases and a second for Food Safety, Diagnosis and Control of Animal Diseases in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Transcaucasia) are also recognized as partners of the OIE.

“It is of paramount importance to implement all prevention and control measures for priority areas in close collaboration with partner organizations, namely OIE, WHO and FAO under the One-Health approach,” Dr. Lukauskas underlined.

The Congress is organized annually in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation and the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance.