Member countries of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) adopted the first global strategy on animal welfare on May 24.
Primarily endorsed in December 2016 at the Fourth OIE Global Conference on Animal Welfare in Guadalajara, Mexico, the strategy aims to achieve: “A world where the welfare of animals is respected, promoted and advanced in ways that complement the pursuit of animal health, human well-being, socioeconomic development and environmental sustainability,” OIE said.
The strategy is based on the following four pillars:
1. Development of international animal welfare standards. OIE animal welfare standards will continue to be developed with input from international experts, based on relevant scientific research and taking into account associated ethical considerations and practical experience. In particular, additional work is currently in progress on standards for pig production systems and the slaughter and killing of farmed reptiles for their skins and meat.
2. Enhancement of veterinary services capacity building and training. As key players in animal welfare issues, veterinary services (including public- and private-sector veterinarians) need to have the appropriate capacities.
3. Communication with governments, national and international organizations and the public to raise awareness on animal welfare. Ensuring the welfare of animals is a responsibility that must be shared among numerous stakeholders. Mutual recognition and constructive engagement among parties are necessary to achieve sustained improvements to animal welfare. OIE member countries are, therefore, highly encouraged to support the development of national programs for raising awareness of animal welfare and educating key players, particularly livestock owners, animal handlers, religious and community leaders and other key groups, such as school students.
4. Progressive implementation of OIE standards on animal welfare and their corresponding policies. In this regard, member countries are urged to integrate OIE standards into their national legislation.
Furthermore, OIE said this strategy recommends the establishment of a new forum that will provide a platform for dialogue between technical experts and interested stakeholders. This platform also will provide an opportunity for their engagement in the OIE animal welfare work program.