Paris, France

The 83rd OIE General Session : its relevance for Africa…


About 900 participants, representing national Delegates from among the 180 Member Countries of the OIE and around 40 international, intergovernmental, regional and national organisations participated in the event. The Opening Ceremony was held in the presence of some thirty Ministers and members of government of OIE Member Countries, as well as the President of the OIE, Dr Karin Schwabenbauer, and the Director General of the OIE, Dr Bernard Vallat.

Mathematically, every 15 years, all elections (Director-General, Council, Bureaus of the Regional Commissions and Specialist Commissions) coincide. This year 2015 was such as year and as a result the programme was slightly adjusted to allow for these numerous elections to be prepared and for voting to take place during this 83rd General Session

After three consecutive five-year terms of office and fifteen years at the Directorate General of the OIE, Dr Bernard Vallat will pass the baton to Dr Monique Eloit, currently Deputy Director General, from 1 January 2016, for the coming five-year term. She will be the first woman leading the OIE.

This General Session also elected or re-elected the members of the Council, the Regional Commissions and the four Specialist Commissions of the OIE. Dr Botlhe Michael Modisane (South Africa) was elected as President the World Assembly of Delegates for a period of three years. Dr Nicholas Kauta (Uganda) was also re-elected as a Member of the Council.


Opening ceremony

Distinguished guests from Africa addressed the opening speeches at the opening ceremony such as: Mr Senzeni Zokwana (Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of South Africa), Mr Anthelme Ramparany (Minister of Livestock of Madagascar), Mr Mahaman Elhadji Ousmane (Minister of Livestock of Niger), Mr Issa Ali Taher (Minister of Livestock and Hydraulics of Chad), Mr Faisal Hassan Ibrahim (Minister for Livestock, Fisheries and Rangelands of Sudan) and Mr Mohamed Sadiki (Secretary General of the National Food Safety Agency, at the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Fisheries of Morocco).
The President of the OIE, Dr Karin Schwabenbauer presented OIE Honorary Awards to members of the veterinary community for outstanding services to veterinary science and to the OIE.

This year – amongst the awarded members – Dr Roy Bengis (South Africa) received the Gold Medal for his achievements as a wildlife specialist and notably as a member of the OIE Working Group on Wildlife for a number of years.

The World Assembly approved the composition of the OIE Working Groups validated by the OIE Council for the period May 2015 – May 2016. Worth mentioning for the African continent are the (re)appointments of Dr Roy Bengis (South Africa) to the Working Group on Wildlife, Dr Jessey Alice Kamwi (Namibia) to the Working Group on Animal Production Food Safety, as well as Prof. Hassan Aidaros (Egypt) and Dr Marosi Molomo (Lesotho) to the Working Group on Animal Welfare.

Animal Health Status

Through sustained commitments, several African improved or gained official disease status recognitions. The OIE World Assembly issued certificates to Botswana, Morocco, Namibia and Swaziland. In particular:

  • Botswana: new zoning design (free from FMD without vaccination);
  • Morocco: country free from African horse sickness (AHS);
  • Namibia: zone free from peste des petits ruminants (PPR, south of the Veterinary Cordon Fence) and country recognition for their official endorsement of its control programme for CBPP (and FMD, north of the Veterinary Cordon Fence);
  • Swaziland: country free from peste des petits ruminants (PPR).

Animal Health Standards

For the Aquatic Code, suffice to remember the addition of a new (listed) disease of crustaceans (primarily farmed shrimps) : acute hepatopancreatic necrosis disease (AHPND), bringing to 118 the number of diseases included in this list.

The Terrestrial Code session, the last one presided by Dr. Alejandro Thiermann who retires from the Code Commission, was again dominated by “block” interventions, not only by the European Union, Europe, the African Union, but also increasingly by the Quadrilateral Group (QUAD : Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA) as well as OIRSA (Organismo Internacional Regional de Sanidad Agropecuaria). Important for Africa is the amended FMD Chapter which now allows for fully non-geographic conditions to trade deboned beef from FMD infected countries (i.e. the additional option of recognition of compartments or feedlots as part of a quarantine set-up, instead of not having FMD outbreaks in a range of 10 km around the production or slaughter site).

A new chapter on Taenia solium, a type of tapeworm transmissible to humans via contaminated pig meat, was added to the Terrestrial Code. This text constitutes a considerable advance in terms of human health protection in many developing countries.

The bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) chapter yielded intense debate around the concept of atypical forms (as opposed to classical forms) of BSE. The new provision in the Code is designed to minimise the impact of the detection of atypical BSE on the official status (for classical BSE) of the countries concerned, the detection and reporting of atypical cases simply reflecting highly effective surveillance systems.

Recognition of reference centres

The African Union’s PANVAC (Pan-African Veterinary Vaccines Centre) was officially recognised as one of four FAO / OIE Holding Facilities worldwide, not only for manufactured rinderpest vaccines and vaccine strains, but also for all other rinderpest virus containing materials, including the virus itself. No further Reference Centres (Reference Laboratories and Collaborating Centres) were recognised on the African continent.

Regional Commission for Africa

Between 60-70 persons participated in the meeting of the Regional Commission for Africa on the 25 May (Monday) representing countries (40 out of the 54 Member Countries), regional and international organizations (AU-IBAR, AU-PANVAC, AU-PATTEC, CEBEVIRHA, CIRAD, FAO, ILRI, WAEMU, World Bank). The report of the President of the OIE Regional Commission for Africa was presented by Dr. Marosi Molomo, Delegate of Lesotho and President of the OIE Regional Commission for Africa. The report on OIE Council meetings was presented by Dr. Botlhe Michael Modisane, Delegate of South Africa. The meeting was also the opportunity to share information on the activities and work programme of the OIE Regional Representation for Africa and the OIE Sub-Regional Representations for Southern, Northern and Eastern Africa. Additional topics were discussed, such as the update regarding the Veterinary Legislation Support Programme (VLSP) and the implementation of the principles of the High Health, High Performance (HHP) concept for competition horses and supporting disease studies. Also presentations from the Regional and International Organisations were delivered during the meeting.
The venue of the next (22nd) Conference of the OIE Regional Commission for Africa was confirmed as being Swakopmund (Namibia) in February 2017.

Finally, a closed session was held between Delegates only in order to discuss the proposal of candidates for the election concerning all of the OIE’s governance positions. As a result, the following persons were later that week (re)elected to the Bureau of the Regional Commission for Africa:

  • President : Dr. Komla Daniel Batawui (Togo)
  • 1st Vice-President : Dr. Theogen Rutagwenda (Rwanda)
  • 2nd Vice-President : Dr. Karim Boughalem (Algeria)
  • Secretary General : Dr. Gaston Djonwe (Cameroon)

Side Meetings

Several meetings pertinent for the African continent were held in the margin of the General Session. One of main events was the signing ceremony for the renewal of the cooperation agreement between the OIE and AU-IBAR to strengthen their collaboration in the field of animal health and welfare.

The General Session was also the occasion to organise – on 27 May – a meeting under the context of REMESA to discuss the Resolution adopted by the CVOs of the REMESA region during the 9th meeting of the REMESA Joint Permanent Committee held in Tunis (Tunisia) on 3-4 November 2014 (for which the commitment was reiterated at the latest REMESA meeting in Heraklion (Greece) in March 2015) related to the implementation of the FMD vaccine bank in the North Africa region.

On the same day, a meeting between Veterinary Statutory Bodies (veterinary councils) took place involving countries such as Tunisia, Mali, Angola and Togo along with representatives from France, Belgium and Canada.

Several bilateral meetings were held during the General Session involving African countries (e.g. Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe) on matters linked to animal health and trade (e.g. FMD).


Results of the Elections of the Specialist Commissions

The outcomes of the elections to be part of the Specialist Commissions included the following experts from Africa:

Scientific Commission for Animal Diseases

  • Dr Gideon Brückner (South Africa) – President of the Commission
  • Dr Baptise Dungu (Democratic Republic of the Congo) – Member of the Commission

Terrestrial Animal Health Standards Commission

  • Dr Emmanuel Couacy Hymann (Ivory Coast) – Member of the Commission
  • Dr Salah Hammami (Tunisia) – Member of the Commission

Biological Standards Commission

  • Dr Mehdi El Harrak (Morocco) – Member of the Commission

Aquatic Animals Health Standards Commission

  • Dr Maxwell Barson (Zimbabwe) – Member of the Commission

Africa is now again represented on all four Specialist Commissions, with at least one, if not two representatives.

The new President of the OIE Code Commission is Dr Etienne Bonbon (France) and the new President of the OIE Aquatic Commission is Dr. Ingo Ernst (Australia). The Biological Standards Commission will henceforth be chaired by Dr. Beverly Schmitt (USA). Dr. Gideon Bruckner from South Africa was re-elected as President of the Scientific Commission for Animal Diseases (SCAD).

83 GS Swaziland

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83 GS Alex Thiermann

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83 GS Monique Eloit Mbargou Lô

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83 GS Monique Eloit

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83 GS Bernard Vallat

83 GS Temple Grandin

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83 GS Picture (c) P. Bastiaensen (oie) 2015

83 GS Picture (c) P. Bastiaensen (oie) 2015

83 GS Picture (c) P. Bastiaensen (oie) 2015

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All pictures © D. Mordzinski (oie) 2015, except where mentioned otherwise.

More information (previous General Session) :

Paris, France

The 82nd OIE General Session : its relevance for Africa…

May 31, 2014
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