Last month, Dr. Bernard Vallat, director general of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), and Bernard Loze, president of the Council for Game & Wildlife Conservation (CIC), signed an agreement between their two institutions to renovate and strengthen their common objectives and activities to cooperate on animal health issues, particularly at the animal, human and environment interface.
On average, five new human infectious diseases appear every year, three of which come from animals — most of the time from wildlife.
In addition, African swine fever (ASF), brucellosis and tuberculosis are just a few examples of well-known diseases that affect wildlife and can spread to domesticated animals and to humans, with 60% of these diseases being zoonotic. In this regard, the professionals of the aquatic and terrestrial protected areas, hunters and fishermen are important sentinels to protect animal and human health.
However, this essential function for health, environment and biodiversity needs to be strengthened and well organized at the global, national and local levels.
In this context, the new OIE-CIC agreement aims to acknowledge the work already undertaken and to stimulate the implementation of new activities.
The cooperation between the two organizations started in May 2011 with a view to enhancing countries' capacity in early detection, official notification and response to animal diseases, including those transmissible to humans (zoonosis), especially in wild animals, thereby contributing to biodiversity conservation as well as animal and human health.
CIC and OIE also cooperate by improving communication among countries and among national veterinary services and national hunting and fishing associations. These actions are implemented by promoting the networks of professional experts on diagnostic, epidemiology and control of wildlife diseases, by signing cooperative agreements among these wildlife professionals and national veterinary services and by developing operational guidelines and capacity-building activities with the support of the global networks of the OIE regional offices, reference laboratories and collaborating centers for prevention and control of wildlife diseases, OIE announced.
The agreement also highlights the ongoing collaboration and emphasizes the implementation of a training program for hunters in order to facilitate their contribution to early detection, reporting and management of diseases affecting wildlife using a "train the trainers" mechanism.
The agreement takes into account the rapid spread of ASF through parts of the European continent. Throughout this project, CIC, with the support of OIE, will work on creating communication tools on ASF and its detection to be distributed to hunting associations throughout the eastern countries of the European Union in their national language, as well as work on the establishment of a training center for wildlife health, which will have a sustainable foundation for the future and will receive support from private and public sponsors, such as the EU.
From left to right: CIC president Bernard Loze, outgoing OIE director general Dr. Bernard Vallat, incoming OIE director general Dr. Monique Eloit and OIE deputy director Dr. Brian Evans. (Photo: OIE.)
New OIE leader
Vallat was elected as OIE director general 15 years ago and has now stepped down. Beginning Jan. 1, Dr. Monique Eloit became the seventh OIE director general after being elected to the post last May.
During Vallat's tenure, OIE has increased its activities and grown in size. OIE has modernized its basic texts, multiplied its resources 10-fold and adapted to the new animal health challenges confronting the world, all while reinforcing its legitimacy on the international scene.
Eloit joined OIE in 2009 as deputy director general in charge of administration, management, human resources and regional actions. In addition to playing a leading role in institutional relations with member countries and with international organizations, she also supervises the activities of the OIE Regional and Sub-Regional Representations. During these past six years, she has also overseen the reform of OIE’s accounting and financial procedures and made a significant contribution to the preparation of OIE’s sixth strategic plan for the 2016-20 period.