Taking advantage of her attendance at the SADC Joint Council of Ministers meeting of Ministers of Agriculture, Food Security, and Fisheries and Aquaculture in Johannesburg on June 8th, Dr Monique Eloit, Director General of OIE conducted several side meetings with the national veterinary services of South African and its partner organisations, including donors and trading partners. During her four-day visit to the metropolitan area of Johannesburg and Pretoria (Gauteng Province) from June 5 to 8th, she visited the Headquarters of the Directorate General of Animal Production and Health (DAFF) in Arcadia, Pretoria and met junior and senior veterinary officials, from the national veterinary authority and some of the provincial veterinary services. Hosted by the immediate Past President of the OIE and OIE Delegate of South Africa, Dr. Botlhe Michael Modisane (Chief Director Animal Production and Health) and the Director of Animal Health, Dr Mpho Maja, Dr Eloit discussed the various animal health and welfare challenges the veterinary services in South Africa are facing, as demonstrated through the various reports produced as part of the OIE PVS Pathway. Chiefly amongst the challenges featured the ongoing epizootic of highly pathogenic avian influenza in the Republic.
The Director General also visited the facilities of the Onderstepoort Veterinary Research institute (OVR), in Pretoria-North, one of the many specialised research facilities of the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) of South Africa. She met with the CEO of the ARC, Dr. Shadrack Moephuli and the Director of the OVR facility, Dr Misheck Mulumba and his senior staff, amongst whom several OIE Designated Experts (OIE Reference Laboratories for African Swine Fever, African Horse Sickness, Bluetongue, Foot-and-Mouth Disease, Lumpy Skin Disease, Rabies, Rift Valley Fever and Sheep and Goat Pox). Dr Eloit did not fail to thank the Government of South African for the technical expertise it avails to the OIE, and “not only to the Africa region, but as far afield as Europe, where South African experts and experience have been instrumental in preventing and controlling first bluetongue, then African swine fever and more recently lumpy skin disease”, she said.
Dr Monique Eloit, accompanied by the OIE Sub-Regional Representative for Southern Africa, Dr Moetapele Letshwenyo, also conducted courtesy visits to representatives of the main donors of the OIE in Southern Africa, and as it happens, also important trading partners of the Republic of South Africa, i.e. diplomatic missions of the European Union (European Commission), the Republic of France and of the United States of America, including the regional branch of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) of the US Department of Agriculture, all based in Pretoria.
The last leg of the mission consisted of Dr Eloit’s attendance at the SADC Joint Council of Ministers meeting of Ministers of Agriculture, Food Security, and Fisheries and Aquaculture, where on June 8th, she delivered a key-note address to the honourable Ministers of the 10 Member States represented at the summit, i.e. Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In her address she focused on various contemporary issues facing the continent and the southern Africa region in particular, including foot-and-mouth disease control, the management of the avian influenza situation and the prevention of any further southward spread of peste des petits ruminants (PPR). Upon her return to Paris, when asked about her impressions about the trip she summed it up in one word : implementation. “Countries in the region are well engaged in standard setting and are fully aware of the technical and trade ramifications of our standards. What is not optimal as of yet is the degree of implementation of those standards and what hampers their full deployment. Hopefully the OIE Observatory project, to be launched soon, will provide us with useful insight into these challenges” she concluded.