OIE Regional Seminar for the National Focal Points for Laboratories (Africa)


Dr Malek Zrelli (Chief of Veterinary Officer of Tunisia) and Dr Rachid Bouguedour (OIE Representative for North Africa). Picture (c) S. Muset (oie) 2018. 

The Regional Seminar for OIE National Focal Points for Veterinary Laboratories was organised in Tunis (Tunisia) from 18 to 20 September 2018 by the OIE Programmes Department and the OIE Sub Regional Representation for North Africa, respectively for technical and organisational aspects.

The Tunisian Minister of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries, H.E. Samir Taïeb, opened the workshop in the presence of Dr. Malek Zrelli (Chief Veterinary Officer of Tunisia), Dr. Rachid Bouguedour (OIE Sub-Regional Representative for North Africa) and Dr Jennifer Lasley (OIE Programmes Department).

Laboratory visit. Picture (c) B. Lafia (oie) 2018. 


A total of 36 African countries participated in the seminar (Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Chad, Cameron, Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Mauritius, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, Sao Tome et Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, Sudan, Somalia, Tanzania, Togo and Tunisia). Experts from OIE Reference Centres based in Botswana [(Botswana Vaccine Institute), South Africa (ARC-Onderstepoort), Ethiopia (African Union Pan African Veterinary Vaccine Centre), Italy (Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell’Abruzzo e del Molise “G. Caporale”) and USA (Sandia National Laboratories)] delivered presentations during the seminar and interacted with the audience. The Executive Director of the World Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (WAVLD) and a representative from the WHO Lyon Office also participated in the Seminar by delivering several presentations.

The seminar was attended also the President of the Biological Standard Commission of the OIE, Prof Emmanuel Couacy-Hymann, who gave several presentations and, in particular, updated the audience on the main OIE principles and requirements behind the OIE Reference Centres and provided an overview of the work of the Biological Standard Commission.

This Seminar was a continuation of previous one organized in Harare, Zimbabwe in November 2016 with the aim of providing participants with knowledge of the responsibilities of the National Focal Points in the standard-setting process as well as to provide more advanced knowledge of the OIE international standards relevant to laboratories by creating and promoting a culture of safety and quality. Dedicated topics such as transport of specimens, biological risk analysis, quality management systems, laboratory networking and the role of National Focal Points were also discussed. The Seminar also allowed experience-sharing and discussion between countries of the region and inform them on ongoing OIE projects in their sphere of competence (e.g. EBO-SURSY project). The main messages conveyed during the 3-day Seminar are as follows:

  • Laboratories provide an evidence base and are critical to decision making in the Veterinary Services. Since laboratories are so essential, the challenges related to sample transport, biorisk analysis, quality management systems, and laboratory networking become even more critical to address;
  • Communication and collaboration with those collecting samples in the field—or those sending samples to OIE Reference Laboratories for confirmation—is crucial for producing accurate results;
  • While it may seem simple and straightforward, biological material transport is a complex process with many actors with different perspectives and objectives. Convening a multidisciplinary discussion with stakeholders and key actors in the sample transport chain may improve the service that your laboratory provides;
  • Biohazard identification is the essential first step in biological risk analysis. Therefore, knowing which pathogens and hazards exist in your laboratory network is essential;
  • Quality Management is an essential element in providing the evidence base of the quality of the results and, therefore, assurance to the Veterinary Services for its decision making;
  • National Focal Points should be active in the OIE standard setting process and provide comments through their OIE Delegates;
  • Use the Network of OIE Reference Centres to have access to high quality expertise needed for rapid and accurate pathogen confirmation and characterisation 
Rachid Bouguedour

All pictures © B.Lafia and S. Muset (oie) 2018, except where mentioned otherwise.

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