25 May 2014, Rome/Paris – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) today pledged to step up their existing collaboration to control animal disease, ensure the safety of food from animal origin and promote safe trade.
The two organizations said they would reinforce their partnership in priority areas that include joint response to animal health crises and programmes to prevent and control foot-and-mouth disease, peste des petits ruminants, African swine fever, rabies, zoonotic influenza and antimicrobial resistance.
In cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO), FAO and OIE plan to focus on monitoring the responsible use of antimicrobial and pharmaceutical products. They will also work to strengthen national veterinary systems.
Speaking at the World Assembly of Delegates to the OIE in Paris today, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said animal health was of “paramount importance” in the work of the Organization to eliminate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.
“We are committed to tackling high-impact animal diseases together with OIE, WHO and regional and national partners,” Graziano da Silva said.
FAO and OIE already have a number of joint initiatives including the FAO/OIE Crisis Management Centre – Animal Health, which provides rapid response during animal disease emergencies, and OFFLU, the network of expertise on animal influenza. The organizations have worked together on issues such as the prevention, detection and control of H5N1 avian influenza, and notched up a major success in 2011 with the global eradication of the deadly cattle virus that caused rinderpest.
“OIE and FAO’s longstanding collaboration has proved its efficiency in the prevention and control of numerous animal diseases worldwide,” said OIE Director General Bernard Vallat.
“Our common actions play a key role in the reduction of poverty and hunger. Convinced of the need to pursue this great collaboration, and to constantly reinforce its efficiency, OIE and FAO have agreed to reinforce their cooperation arrangement.”
Growing threat of climate change
During his address to the OIE assembly, Graziano da Silva underlined that climate change represented a growing threat for the future of animal health and its repercussions for global food security.
Tropical vector-borne diseases like Rift Valley fever and malaria are highly sensitive to climatic conditions, while climate change may affect the distribution and migration of wild birds that harbour avian influenza viruses, he said, citing the most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
As a result, climate change is ‘a huge concern to be shared’ and an additional focus of common work, Graziano da Silva said.