OIE Headquarters, Paris (France), 25 January 2018. On 23-25 January 2018, UNICRI participated in a three-day ad hoc group meeting convened by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
The three-day meeting focused on how the subject of “biothreat” – defined by the OIE as the accidental or deliberate misuse of an animal pathogen or zoonotic disease agent (a pathogen transmitted from animals to humans) – can be further integrated into OIE standards, needs assessment tools and guidance documents dedicated to evaluating and enhancing veterinary legislation.
The first day of the meeting began with welcoming remarks by the OIE Director General, Dr. Monique Eloit, underscoring the importance of the ad hoc group’s mission to ensure veterinary legislation incorporates provisions not only for addressing natural and accidental disease events, but also for bioterrorism.
Following Dr. Eloit’s welcoming remarks, Dr. David Sherman, Coordinator of the OIE Veterinary Legislation Support Program (VLSP), presented a summary of the VLSP.
Dr. Sonia Drobysz, of the Verification Research, Training and Information Centre (VERTIC), then provided an overview of the legislative framework for biological threat reduction, launching substantive discussions on how to update the OIE Terrestrial Code Chapter 3.4 on Veterinary Legislation in the context of biological threat reduction.
During the remainder of the first day, the ad hoc group proposed modifications to relevant sections of the Terrestrial Code Chapter 3.4. These proposals included information on laboratory biosecurity, focusing attention on the importance of legislation covering the possible theft and deliberate misuse of biological agents and toxins.
On the second day of the meeting, the ad hoc group elaborated a set of assessment questions that can be used to support the missions of the Veterinary Legislation Support Program.
Finally, on the third day, the ad hoc group drafted an awareness-raising brochure for OIE Member Countries that will help further sensitize delegates to the subject of bioterrorism and the need for legislation that supports the implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention and UN Security Council Resolution 1540.
As a next step, the OIE plans to pilot the materials developed by the ad hoc group to ensure they provide a clear and sustainable basis for evaluating and enhancing biological threat reduction legislation in OIE Member Countries. Changes proposed by the Ad Hoc Group must be reviewed by the OIE Code Commission before they can be submitted to the OIE Member Countries for consideration of adoption.