Animal Health meet deliberates on FMD free status
Animal experts from across Africa converged in Namibia late last month to examine animal health, welfare and animal production as well as food safety issues within the southern African region.
At the 22nd Conference of the Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Regional Commission for Africa, the President of the OIE Scientific Commission for Animal Diseases, Dr. Gideon Bruckner, discussed the obligation of member countries to facilitate safe trade in line with both the provisions of the World Trade Organisation Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement and that of the OIE.
Bruckner mentioned a few aspects which might be presented for adoption at the upcoming OIE General Assembly in May and which of interest to the region.
The OIE member countries constitute five regions, of which Africa is the largest, with 54 member countries. Due to financial constraints, not all member countries could attend the conference.
The decision to be made in May would allow for the establishment of a Foot and Mouth (FMD) free compartment with vaccination to allow for incidental buffalo incursions into FMD free zones without affecting the official status.
For Namibia, areas beyond the cordon fence could be excepted from having their FMD free statuses removed when incidental buffalo incursions occur particularly in the north to north-eastern areas.
Theses areas, according to Meatco, have a far greater market potential than what is currently available. Currently Meatco is adapting their business model with mobile abattoirs deployed in some of these areas beyond the veterinary cordon fence under strict veterinary supervision.
“Member countries should acknowledge official disease status and not impose strict import requirements on countries of equivalent status,” Dr. Gudeib Bruckner said.
He further declared that maintenance of free zones is of utmost importance to the OIE and that such maintenance will be strictly reviewed by the OIE with a zero tolerance stance.
The Director General of the OIE, Dr. Monique Eloit, staff members of the OIE office in Paris and staff members of the OIE offices in the Region as well as the European Union were present at the conference.
Issues of special interest discussed were among others, the animal health situation in the region, climate change and vector-borne diseases, pastoralism and the OIE strategy on antimicrobial resistance as well as the Global strategy for the control and eradication of Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) and the Rabies pilot project in Namibia as well as the Performance of Veterinary Services (PVS) pathway.
On the final day of the Conference, the Meat Board had the opportunity to present the challenges of international trade in animals and animal products as experienced by Namibia. The Meat Board also had the opportunity to market Namibian export approved abattoirs and processors.
Overall, the conference was deemed to be very successful and positive, presenting a wonderful opportunity to the Directorate of Veterinary Services of Namibia and stakeholders to meet key persons and to discuss matters of concern to the livestock and meat industry of Namibia.