Portrait gallery of the former Presidents of the Commission, in the foyer of the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa.
H.E. Amb. Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, the African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture (REA) on 12 September played host to Dr Monique Eloit, OIE Director-General. Dr Eloit was accompanied by Dr Karim Tounkara, OIE Regional Representative for Africa and Dr. Patrick Bastiaensen, Programme Officer at the OIE Sub-Regional Representation for Eastern Africa.
The formal meeting at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, took place in the presence of the Director of the Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), Prof. Ahmed El-Sawalhy, Director of the Pan African Veterinary Vaccine Centre (AU-PANVAC), Dr. Nick Nwankpa, and the Acting Coordinator of the Pan African Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Eradication Campaign (AU-PATTEC) and several other AU staff.
The Commissioner and the Director-General discussed several issues of mutual interest such as the involvement of the African Union in the Global Framework for the progressive control of Transboundary Animal Diseases (GF-TADs), the involvement of African Union staff in the Performance of Veterinary Services (PVS) Pathway missions, the challenges posed by important animal diseases such as peste des petits ruminants (PPR) on the African continent while highlighting the main outcomes of the Global Conference recently held in Brussels and issues of biological threat reduction linked to the sequestration of rinderpest virus containing materials at the AU-PANVAC facilities in Debre-Zeit, south of the capital Addis Ababa. Accompanied by officials from the AUC department of Rural Economy and Agriculture, the Commissioner and the Director General later visited the AU-PANVAC facilities and were taken on a tour of the premises which included the bio-safety level 3 rinderpest holding facility, the African Union emergency vaccine bank for rinderpest and the official inauguration by H.E. the Commissioner of the “Karim Tounkara Centre for Ergonomics” while the OIE Director General planted a tree in the said Centre, as testimony to her visit. Dr Tounkara, current OIE Regional Representative for Africa, was the first Director of AU-PANVAC.
In the late afternoon, the Director General met with the new Ethiopian State Minister for Veterinary Services, under the newly merged Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Resources, H.E. Gebreegziabher Gebreyohannes. The Directors of the Directorate Disease Prevention and Control, the Directorate Epidemiology, the Directorate Export Abattoir Inspection and Certification and of the National Animal Health Diagnostic and Investigation Centre (NAHDIC) took part in the meeting. The OIE Director General focused the discussion on the trade ambitions of Ethiopia, which of recent has made a lot of investments in export facilities, both for livestock and meat, targeting the Middle Eastern markets. Discussions also evolved around the threat of Rift valley fever (RVF) to Ethiopia and to its trade with the Middle East, the role of NAHDIC as a potential service or reference laboratory for foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), contagious bovine pleuro-pneumonia (CBPP) and peste des petits ruminants (through ongoing and additional future OIE twinning agreements), and the position and training of veterinary paraprofessionals. It is noteworthy that Ethiopia is one of the few beneficiaries in Africa of an OIE twinning agreement between veterinary educational establishments (VEE), i.e. Gondar University (Ethiopia) and Ohio State University (USA).