77th OIE General Session (Paris, France, May 24 - 29th, 2009).
The 77th General Session of the OIE, which has just come to a close, has been exceptionally important for Africa, for several reasons.
The Minister of Agriculture of Botswana, Christiaan De Graaf, guest of honor of the opening ceremony of this 77th Session, recognized the important part played by the OIE in obtaining the necessary agreements enabling the country to export meat products towards South Africa and the European Union. During this 77th Session, Botswana recovered its status of FMD free zone without vaccination, suspended after the outbreaks reported in 2007-2008. In addition, the Minister thanked OIE for having chosen Botswana to establish its Sub-Regional Representation for Southern Africa in 2005 and announced that the OIE, along with its partner organisations within the Regional Animal Health Center (RAHC),i.e. FAO (ECTAD) and AU (IBAR), will be housed in the buildings of the Ministry of Agriculture as soon as the refurbishment of the offices will have been completed, scheduled for July of this year. The Minister thus responded to a request of OIE, as expressed since the signature of the Host Agreement in 2006.
Other African guests of honour were the Minister for Livestock Development of Kenya, Mr. Mohamed Abdi Kuti, the Minister of Livestock of Niger, Mr. Issyad Ag Kato, as well as the Minister of Livestock, Forestry and Range of Somalia, Mr. Abukar Abdi Osman.
This General Session also saw the fruition of a long process of negotiations on animal health standards regarding Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) or `mad cow disease'. The standards governing international trade, established and later amended since its appearance in the United Kingdom approximately 24 years ago, were considered particularly harsh for meat exporting countries with 'undetermined risk for BSE', in particular the clause by which export from these countries, of meat derived from bovines of more than 30 months of age, was prohibited. This age limit is generally considered incompatible with the (extensive) production-systems in Africa, where fattening leads to slaughter well beyond 30 months. This age limit, no longer deemed defendable by the OIE scientific panel entrusted with reviewing this chapter, has now been deleted from the Terrestrial Code, thus opening up new opportunities for meat exporting countries.
Certificates of recognition of the official status of rinderpest free country were delivered to the representatives of Kenya, Libya and Cape Verde.
The 2009 Session was also the year of renewal of the governing bodies of the OIE, i.e. the administrative, technical (4) and regional (5) commissions, as well as the presidency of the International Committee, supreme governing body of the OIE, entrusted to Dr. Barry O' Neil of New Zealand since 2006. The new President of the International Committee is the Uruguayan Delegate, Dr. Carlos Correa Messuti.
The African members of the Administrative Commission are henceforth Dr. Rachid Bouguedour (Algeria) and Dr. Flôrencia Massango-Cipriano (Mozambique). The Members of the technical commissions are Dr. Gideon Bruckner (South Africa) and Dr. Hassan Aidaros (Egpt) for the Scientific Commission, Dr. Stuart Hargreaves (Zimbabwe) and Dr. Ahmed Mustafa Hassan (Sudan) for the Code Commission and Dr. Medhi El Harrak (Morocco) for the Biological Standards Commission.
The bureau of the OIE Regional Commission for Africa will henceforth be presided by Dr. William Olaho-Mukani (Uganda) with Vice-présidents Dr. Mokhtar Fall (Mauritania) and Dr. Daouda Bangoura (Guinea) and Dr. Marosi Molomo (Lesotho) as Secretary-general. The mandate of this Commission expires in May 2012.
Delegates voting on new standards regarding BSE.
The OIE Regional Commission for Africa
Handing of the certifcate of rinderpest-free country to Kenya.
Handing of the certifcate of rinderpest-free country to Libya.
photos (c) OIE & P. Bastiaensen (2009)