The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) officially opened the U.S.-based liaison office in College Station Nov. 6 during a ceremony at the Texas A&M AgriLife Center. As an intergovernmental organization responsible for improving animal health and welfare worldwide, the OIE is recognized by the World Trade Organization the standard-setting body for animal health regulatory activities.
The office will be co-located with and hosted by the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases (IIAD) – a member of The Texas A&M University System and an OIE Collaborating Centre in the specialty of biological threat reduction.
“Our modern agricultural economy is highly dependent upon two things: freedom from disease and trade,” said Melissa Berquist, PhD, IIAD director. “Following the outbreak of an infectious livestock or poultry disease, the ability to efficiently implement science-based standards and demonstrate freedom from disease is imperative to limiting the loss of revenue, ensuring safe trade and protecting food security. Better understanding global animal health and zoonotic threats improve preparedness, prevention, and response. Supporting the development of science-based standards, and providing effective tools and training for disease surveillance, control and eradication are at the core of IIAD’s mission.”
“I’m happy to welcome the OIE to the Texas A&M campus and look forward to consistent engagement,” said John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System. “We are glad to give the world broad access to our experts in agriculture, veterinary medicine, and research.”
“The opening of a liaison office is a first for the organization,” said OIE Deputy Director General Jean-Phillippe Dop, DVM, who attended the official opening. “This new U.S.-based office will open additional lines of communication between the OIE and U.S. veterinary and public health parties – allowing for better collaboration when it comes to disaster preparedness, emergency planning, and animal disease surveillance.”
Traditionally, permanent official relations with the OIE-member countries, as well as international and regional organizations, are maintained through the official national delegate and the 12 regional and sub-regional representations covering every continent. While the OIE liaison office does not change any traditional communication channels, the office will provide new avenues for high-level engagement with U.S. government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and private sector constituents. This strengthened relationship with U.S. animal production stakeholders is expected to reinforce the understanding of the OIE international standards at the national level, as well as an increased appreciation of the importance and challenges of global animal health transparency.
Designated as an OIE Collaborating Centre in 2014, IIAD provides its expertise internationally to support and implement animal health initiatives, provide scientific and technical training, and conduct scientific research focused on global animal health.
“Both OIE and IIAD have a long-standing practice of working in partnership with existing organizations in academia, government, and private industry – we each believe animal health is best advanced by assisting, coordinating and making use of the activities of existing resources and infrastructure when possible” Berquist said. “By co-locating their U.S. Liaison Office in College Station, OIE has not only built upon its previous relationship with IIAD, but also gained wider access to a premier research institution that complements OIE’s science-based standards. With proven partnerships, the establishment of this office is sure to bring new and exciting opportunities to all parties.”
The Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases focuses on research, education, and outreach to prevent, detect, mitigate and recover from transboundary, emerging and/or zoonotic diseases, which may be introduced intentionally or through natural processes. IIAD is a member of the Texas A&M University System, a World Organisation for Animal Health Collaborating Centre in the specialty of biological threat reduction and a Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Emeritus Center of Excellence. For more information about the Institute, visit iiad.tamu.edu.