Contents - Previous - Next

Chapter 11: International cooperation

Bilateral cooperation
Regional and global cooperation

Steadily increasing trade and movement, including export and import of animals and their products, increase the risk of spreading animal diseases. Therefore, international cooperation in animal health and related matters should be improved at all levels - bilateral, subregional, regional and global.

New and more difficult animal health problems will require further specialization in veterinary medicine and close international cooperation will be necessary. In this context, improved international exchange of information on epidemiological situations, on new scientific and technological discoveries and methodology and on accumulated practical experience will be important. Increased sharing of sophisticated and expensive laboratories and other facilities will also be needed.

The priority of future international cooperation and collaboration will continue to be the organization and coordination of the control of major transmissible diseases that do not respect country borders (e.g. rinderpest, foot-and-mouth disease, African horse sickness, African swine fever, Newcastle disease, rabies, etc.). More attention should also be given to those diseases transmitted by vectors.

For all forms of effective international cooperation and collaboration, there is a need for active participation by all countries. This is particularly important in programmes to control and eradicate transmissible diseases affecting adjacent countries.

The protection of individual countries, subregions and regions against the introduction of exotic animal diseases through the importation of animals and their products continues to be a matter of concern for all countries. In this context, international standards regulating veterinary exports and imports should be respected as the minimum requirement.

Bilateral cooperation

Cooperation on disease information and control measures between neighbouring countries is essential. Trade in animals and animal products, uncontrolled movements of animals across borders and vector-borne, wildlife or airborne diseases require close collaboration between neighbouring countries if the spread of disease is to be prevented or limited.

Regular bilateral meetings between animal health services of neighbouring and trading countries should be held. Formal arrangements for animal health personnel to perform functions across borders, where feasible, should be made.

It has proved to be very useful to promote collaboration in veterinary fields by official bilateral agreements or conventions at governmental or lower levels. This form is useful between neighbouring countries and between countries linked by regular import/export of animals and their products.

Regional and global cooperation

Similarly, cooperation between nations of large areas makes the role of regional organizations important. These regional organizations have varying formal agreements and arrange regular meetings in addition to emergency or special topic sessions.

Highly virulent diseases can place the producers of an entire continent at potential risk, along with its consumers, because of the threat of increased costs or even a shortage of animal products. Therefore, every effort should be made to harmonize legislation and encourage cooperation in its enforcement.

Regarding the global international organizations, United Nations organizations such as FAO and WHO, together with OIE, assist member countries in animal health fields within the framework of international responsibilities laid down by their respective constitutions and agreements at global and regional levels.

The major forms of FAO technical assistance are: technical advice; professional information; fielding of experts and consultants; provision of technical documentation; training; and preparation and execution of field projects in close cooperation with animal health services of member countries. Under FAO's Regular Programme, the Animal Health Service organizes, according to the needs and country requests, expert consultations, training seminars, study tours, fellowships, etc. Particular attention is given to the coordination and support of animal health research of international importance and of the transfer of technology from developed to developing countries. The technical responsibility is with the Animal Health Service at FAO headquarters in Rome.

The establishment of regional laboratories with international responsibilities specialized in the diagnosis of specific diseases or in the production of vaccines and antigens has proved very useful. These laboratories also provide for the standardization and, when appropriate, the distribution of testing techniques and reagents. A very important form of international cooperation is the international network of FAO, WHO and OIE reference laboratories and collaborating centres. They are able to provide advice and assistance with diagnosis on complex cases, diagnostic standard reagents and training.

The International Office of Epizootics (OIE) is an organization with official veterinary services in most countries of the world. Founded in 1924, its principal objectives are to stimulate and coordinate the dissemination of information on infectious diseases, including changes in disease status and programmes. It publishes the International Animal Health Code and Manual (for diagnostic and vaccine standardization), which makes recommendations for international trade and disease control. OIE cooperates actively with FAO and WHO on a variety of matters and with various regional organizations. Information handling is its most important task and OIE has sponsored a series of meetings and training courses on the subject. OIE headquarters is in Paris.

The World Health Organization (WHO) contributes significantly to animal health wherever human health is affected on an international scale. This strongly regionalized organization has individual country, continental and worldwide programmes and responsibilities. The Veterinary Public Health (VPH) section, which deals with zoonoses and food hygiene, reports to the director of the Division of Communicable Diseases. In addition to their own resources, the VPH section has access to the expertise of the many specialized WHO agencies. WHO cooperates closely with FAO and OIE.

FAO and WHO regional and subregional offices coordinating or participating in animal health programmes in the respective territories can be found on all continents.

Collaboration with other national and international veterinary associations, such as the World Veterinary Association, can benefit national animal health services. Many of these associations publish scientific periodicals, which provide a useful source of information for updating veterinarians in their specific fields of interest.

Accelerating communications of all kinds and spreading and intensifying animal disease, together with ever-increasing needs for animal production, require increasing international cooperation. Nations and their organizations have, in most cases, agreed on ways of accomplishing this important objective.

A description of the organization and functions of the relevant international and regional organizations is given in Annex 6.

Contents - Previous - Next