Featured publication: OIE paper on ensuring safe international trade

Thumbnail - OIE Sci Tech Rev Vol 30

Dr Gideon Brückner of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has published a paper in the April 2011 issue of Scientific and Technical Review which features the spread of pathogens through international trade.

Below is the abstract of the paper titled, Ensuring safe international trade: how are the roles and responsibilities evolving and what will the situation be in ten years’ time?

The roles of the international standard-setting bodies that are mandated to facilitate safe trade, such as the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the International Plant Protection Convention and the World Trade Organization, are well documented, as are the roles of the international organisations responsible for global health issues: the OIE, the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. However, developments in international trade, such as accelerating globalisation and the frequent emergence and re-emergence of diseases affecting both humans and animals, have brought new challenges and the need to reconsider the future roles of such organisations. New participants and new demands have also emerged to challenge these mandates, leading to potential areas of conflict. The need for countries to establish themselves as new trade partners, or to strengthen their positions while still maintaining safe trade, poses a challenge to standard-setting organisations, which must meet these demands while still remaining sensitive to the needs of developing countries. In this paper, the author describes and discusses some of these challenges and suggests how international organisations could evolve to confront such issues.

Download the PDF paper from the OIE website

Enhancing safe inter-regional livestock trade: Workshop recommendations

During the final session of the workshop, Dr Henry Wamwayi of the African Union – Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) read out the draft workshop recommendations which, after a few minor editorial changes, were accepted and adopted by the participants. The workshop recommendations are reproduced below.

Risk-Based Approaches to Livestock Certification and Harmonized Control of Trade-Related Transboundary Animal Diseases

June 13-16, 2011, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Draft Resolution #2

The workshop on enhancing safe inter-regional livestock trade between the Horn of Africa and the Middle East countries was held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on June 13-16, 2011. The objectives were to:

  1. Examine the use of the decision support tool for adoption in prevention and control of Rift Valley fever (RVF)
  2. Assemble an approach to regional harmonization for control of other transboundary animal diseases that impact on livestock trade
  3. Delineate animal welfare issues along the marketing chain and propose potential interventions
  4. Devise mechanisms for ensuring enhanced communication between the trading partners
  5. Define the way forward on risk-based approaches to livestock certification

Considering that:

  1. The health and well-being of the people and livestock of the Middle East and the Horn of Africa is a goal shared by all countries in the region;
  2. Economic development and food security in terms of affordable and safe food supplies are a prerequisite for human health and well-being;
  3. There is need to enhance and stabilize safe inter-regional livestock trade as mutually agreed  between the Horn of Africa exporting countries and the Middle East importing countries;
  4. Appropriately regulated safe and transparent trade contributes to economic development and food security in both exporting and importing countries;
  5. Key trade related transboundary animal diseases are acknowledged by all countries in the Region to be regional constraints that can best be addressed through a committed and harmonized regional approach to safeguard human and livestock health and to promote trade in animals and animal products;
  6. The increasing importance of animal welfare in livestock production, marketing and trade;
  7. The critical role of communication in enhancing transparency and trust between the trading partners;
  8. Trading partners may use different approaches to achieve the same objectives in disease control

The workshop participants made recommendations on the following aspects:

  1. Standard methods and procedures (SMP)
  2. Rift Valley fever (RVF) decision support tool (DST)
  3. Communication between livestock trading partners
  4. Animal health certification
  5. Animal welfare
  6. Application of the principle of equivalence

Standard methods and procedures (SMP)

  1. Put in place a program on standard methods and procedures based on OIE standards to form the basis for harmonization and coordination of disease control and livestock trade activities in the Horn of Africa region. (Action: AU-IBAR)
  2. The documentation of value chain activities, completion of risk analyses and the development of appropriate protocols to be shared among the trading partners.

Rift Valley fever (RVF) decision support tool (DST)

  1. Inputs from the representatives of importing and exporting countries, quarantine station operators, traders and international organizations during this meeting be incorporated into the existing RVF DST and used as a framework to mitigate trade risk. (Action: ILRI)
  2. Explore the application of the DST process to other diseases.
  3. The OIE standards and the recommendations of the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code and Terrestrial Manual be reviewed, particularly in relation to trade related issues and diagnostic procedures. (Action: AU-IBAR)
  4. Further research on the biology of infection, diagnosis and epidemiology of RVF to guide further development of RVF DST. (Action: ILRI, CDC, RVC, USDA)
  5. Further research on the biology of infection, diagnosis and epidemiology of other trade related TADs to guide development of DST (Action: ILRI, CDC, RVC, USDA)


  1. The meeting recommended that trading partners formalize and maintain continuous communication at all levels and this process be further strengthened by the establishment of a secretariat to coordinate meetings and moderate an electronic forum in collaboration with an appropriate counterpart (Action: GCC member states).

Animal welfare

  1. The meeting recommended an assessment of the animal welfare considerations in accordance with OIE standards in order to identify priorities for future interventions and modalities for their implementation (Action: Member states and AU-IBAR)


  1. The exporting countries to implement risk based animal health certification that incorporates a people-centred approach along the livestock value chain.


  1. Importing and exporting countries acknowledge and apply the trade facilitating measures already provided for in the OIE Terrestrial Code such as the recognition of different sanitary measures required for trade in livestock and livestock products from countries having the same and different disease status.

EST Workshop - Group photo

Developing a cooperative export-import disease control program: Group work

On the fourth and final day of the workshop on enhancing safe inter-regional livestock trade between the Horn of Africa and the Middle East, participants worked in three groups to develop a cooperative export/import disease control program, combining the tools and issues discussed during the first three days of the workshop

  • Risk assessment
  • The decision support tool (DST)
  • Livestock health certification
  • Mutual communication
  • Quarantine measures
  • Standard Methods and Procedures (SMP)

The group facilitators were Dr Jeffrey Mariner of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Dr James Wabacha of the African Union – Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR)  and Prof Gregory Neville of the Royal Veterinary College (RVC).

Cooperatrive export-import disease control program - Group 1

Group 1 (facilitated by Dr Jeffrey Mariner): Creating a cooperative export-import disease control program

Cooperative export-import disease control program - Group 2

Group 2 (facilitated by Dr James Wabacha): Creating a cooperative export-import disease control program

Cooperative export-import disease control program - Group 3

Group 3 (facilitated by Prof Gregory Neville): creating a cooperative export-import disease control program

Quarantine stations and their role in livestock export

The session on OIE sanitary standards and livestock trade featured a series of presentations by Mr Hassan Khalaf al Hassan, Prof Saad Elrogaby and Prof Khalid Abou Gazia from the Saudi-Emirates International Veterinary Quarantine Management Company (SEIVQM) on the role of quarantine stations in livestock export.

Saudi-Emirates International Veterinary Quarantine Management Company

The SEIVQM plays a facilitatory role on behalf of livestock traders in exporting countries and consumers in importing countries. Specific country requirements are followed during vaccination of animals and testing for specific diseases. Serological tests are carried out in the company’s well-equipped laboratories by highly qualified and trained laboratory staff.

Saudi-Emirates International Veterinary Quarantine Management Company

Animal welfare along the livestock marketing value chain: some considerations


On the subject of safeguarding animal welfare along the livestock marketing value chain, Prof Gregory Neville of the Royal Veterinary College, University of London put forward the following points that need to be considered with respect to livestock trade between the Horn of Africa and the Middle East:

  • Journey distance
  • Seasonality of trade (for example, where there are peaks in supply)
  • Injuries to animals during transport (especially on the feet and legs)
  • Appropriateness of animal handling methods
  • Is halal slaughter being carried out properly

In general, regarding the ethics of animal welfare, the three key questions to consider are:

  • Is it fair?
  • Is it necessary?
  • Are there alternatives?

AU-IBAR presents on animal health and certification interventions in the Horn of Africa

From a focus on Rift Valley fever on the first two days of the workshop, discussions on Day 3 shifted gears to themes related to livestock certification; sanitary standards and livestock trade; and animal welfare along the livestock marketing value chain.

AU-IBAR: The institution and its objectives

The theme on Animal health and certification interventions kicked off with a presentation by Dr Henry Wamwayi of the African Union – Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) on AU-IBAR animal health interventions in Somalia and the Horn of Africa.

After outlining AU-IBAR’s mandate, core functions and strategic programs, Dr Wamwayi highlighted the achievements of some recently completed AU-IBAR projects in the Horn of Africa, key among which was the Somali Ecosystem Rinderpest Eradication Coordination Unit (SERECU) project which led to the eradication of rinderpest in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.

He then presented overviews of two current AU-IBAR animal health interventions in the Horn of Africa and their achievements: Livestock Emergency Interventions to Mitigate Food Crisis in Somalia (LEISOM) and Vaccines for the Control of Neglected Animal Diseases in Africa (VACNADA).

Dr James Wabacha, also from AU-IBAR, followed with a presentation on the Somali Livestock Certification Project (SOLICEP) that AU-IBAR is undertaking in conjunction with veterinary authorities in Somalia, Somaliland and Puntland.

SOLICEP banner - Arabic

SOLICEP aims to (1) enhance livestock certification systems in Somalia and other countries in the Horn of Africa to improve performance and prevent future livestock bans; (2) build capacity for the public and private sectors to carry out livestock certification in line with the sanitary standards of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE); and (3) enhance communication and sharing of information among trading partners. Dr Wabacha outlined the key activities of the project under the three result areas of certification, capacity strengthening and linkages with Somali institutions and partners.SOLICEP banner - English

The final presentation under this theme was by Kenya’s Director of Veterinary Services, Dr Peter Ithondeka, who discussed animal health certification in livestock trade in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East. Dr Ithondeka revisited the OIE principle of equivalence, noting that it is a useful principle for livestock exporting countries in the Horn of Africa to apply. He stressed that livestock certification should be based on risk analysis. He also noted that OIE standards for Rift Valley fever are very easily met but there is need to enhance trust and transparency between exporting and importing countries through such initiatives as the OIE membership forums which can be useful for fostering bilateral and multilateral engagement and building of trust.

Cooperative exporter-importer livestock disease control

Standard Methods and Rules- introduction

The theme on Cooperative exporter-importer livestock disease control featured a presentation by Dr Andrew Clark on the Standard Methods and Rules (SMR) for control of trade-related transboundary animal diseases and a panel discussion on communication among trading partners moderated by Dr Bernard Bett.

Dr Clark introduced the SMR discussion document and outlined the components of an SMR program. A key feature of an SMR program is its regional approach to control of transboundary animal diseases in line with the OIE principle of equivalence which acknowledges that exporting and importing countries can adopt different approaches to arrive at the same goal of safe livestock trade.

One advantage of the SMR program is its flexibility which allows it to be tailored to suit the needs of the primary users, Chief Veterinary Officers of both livestock exporting nations in the Horn of Africa and importing nations in the Middle East. It may also have potential as the sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) basis for livestock trade in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) region.

The panel in the discussion on communication among trading partners featured four representatives of the main actors along the export-import value chain: livestock importing and exporting countries, traders and quarantine station operators.

The discussion centred on the livestock information needs of importing and exporting countries; sources of animals and trade markets; procedures for animal disease screening at quarantine stations; and animal disease control measures in exporting countries. It was agreed that a coordinated action plan is necessary to harmonize livestock disease control activities.