Azerbaijan Should Strengthen Veterinary Service: Interview with World Animal Health Organization Head

Azerbaijan, Baku, 8 April / Trend / Trend 's exclusive interview with Bernard Vallat, the head of the World Organization for Animal Health - OIE

Question: How do you assess the activity of Azerbaijan as a part of the OIE? 

Answer: Over the last few years, Azerbaijan has made a lot of efforts to comply with the OIE rules. In particular, I am pleased to say that the Veterinary Authorities comply with their animal disease notification obligations and are increasingly using the new  notification system online (WAHIS). This transparency and improvement in data sharing definitely benefits the international community in its task of animal disease surveillance and response. Also, I would like to mention that Azerbaijan regularly pays its financial contribution to the OIE thereby fulfilling its obligations as an OIE Member.

Question: How do you estimate the arrangements intended for prevention of animal diseases, particularly Bird Flu and African Swine Fever?

Answer: The OIE strategy in fighting animal diseases such as African swine fever and zoonosis (those animal diseases which can be transmitted to humans) like avian influenza is based on early detection and a rapid response to the disease outbreaks. National Veterinary Services are crucial to prevention, detection and monitoring of animal diseases, including those transmissible to humans. They play a key role in all countries as guarantors of animal health and, by association, of public health. Their mission is the responsibility of the public authorities, along with the involvement of private-sector partners. The OIE strongly advocates its Member Countries and Territories to strengthen their Veterinary Services, and Azerbaijan as an OIE Member is committed to do so. In terms of notification of animal diseases, I have already mentioned that the competent authorities are improving their efforts, although a lot more could and should be achieved.

Question: How do you see the perspective development of the cooperation between OIE and State Veterinary Service at the Azerbaijani Agricultural Ministry?

Answer: Azerbaijan is one of OIE's 172 Members and as such it is represented by its Chief Veterinary Officer. In his capacity of OIE Delegate, the CVO of Azerbaijan participates in the standard setting process and the decision making process of the organization by democratically voting for the adoption of the OIE international standards and recommendations. In addition to that, the country can be increasingly active within the OIE Regional Representation (based in Sofia) and Regional Commission of the OIE.

Question: Which projects and joint programs will your organization and Azerbaijan realize in the near future?

Answer: The OIE Regional Representation for Eastern Europe carries out an important mission of capacity building, aiming at reaching out to the highest policy-making spheres for improving national veterinary services and animal disease control policies. Seminars are therefore designed to directly involve national veterinary services, stakeholders and government officials in the works.  Azerbaijan is included in all OIE thematic seminars that include the training on PVS tool, the use of World Animal Information System (WAHIS), border controls, on food safety, as well as on the role of veterinary statutory bodies. When African swine fever occurred in the Caucasus region in June 2007 and when foot and mouth disease kept spreading all over the central Asia, the OIE organized a special meeting of the Regional Commission for Europe in July 2007, in order of the countries of the region to establish a common strategy in tackling the diseases.

Question: What assistance can OIE render to Azerbaijan in case of need?

Answer: The performance of national Veterinary Services is directly linked to their quality. To be efficient, Veterinary Services must operate according to the scientific principles and in complete transparency, be technically independent and free of political and private-sector pressure. Countries with inefficient Veterinary Services cannot provide credible guarantees to their trade partners about the safety of the products of animal origin they wish to export. The OIE has undertaken an obligation to introduce international standards on the quality of governance of Veterinary Services and to help its member countries in applying them. OIE's standards on the quality and assessment of Veterinary Services were unanimously adopted by all its Members and in order to facilitate the implementation of these standards, OIE developed an interactive application for evaluating the performance of Veterinary Services on the basis of the adopted standards. The application, called "OIE Tool for the Evaluation of Performance of Veterinary Services (OIE PVS Tool) is designed to serve as a guide to help countries comply voluntarily with OIE standards through a process of self-evaluation, evaluation at the request of a trade partner or evaluation by a third party under the auspices of the OIE. The evaluation data generated by PVS will enable the Government, the Parliament and - if necessary - potential international donors to target investments, with the overarching goal of assisting countries who wish to bring their services in line with the international standards adopted democratically by all. If Azerbaijan decides to request a PVS evaluation to the OIE, an assessment mission would then be put in place.

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