Animal diseases spreading between countries on the rise

In response to an increase of transboundary animal diseases, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have decided to strengthen their collaboration. Animal diseases spreading between countries, such as foot-and-mouth disease and avian influenza, are often having a severe economic and social impact, the two agencies said in joint statement today.

FAO and OIE called upon countries and donors to invest more in the control of contagious transboundary animal diseases. Such animal diseases are on the rise as a result of international trade and the movement of people and animals. "Animal diseases that cross borders need an immediate and effective regional or international response," the two agencies said. FAO and OIE have decided to set up a global information and early warning system on highly contagious transboundary animal diseases. "In an emergency situation, the rapid distribution of information and an improved coordination between countries is essential to control contagious diseases. This will help to protect people against diseases of animal origin and prevent the risk of diseases spreading into other countries," FAO/OIE said.

The new FAO/OIE agreement, signed on 24 May 2004, clarifies the area of competence of the two agencies and will improve synergies. While OIE is a body that collects official information provided by countries, sets standards and guidelines and issues recommendations on safety of international trade of animals and animal products, on animal health and zoonoses, FAO advises countries on good agricultural practices, disease control and eradication methods. Both agencies assist countries in building their surveillance and early warning systems.

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