Safeguarding transparency of the animal health situation allows countries to take immediate actions that protect animals, making a significant difference in the field for the farmers and families who depend on them. Ensuring this transparency is at the core OIE’s mandate. At the 87th OIE General Session, an analysis of countries notification behaviours in the World Animal Health Information System (WAHIS) was presented: although members transparency over time has remarkably improved, further actions are needed to enhance the reporting performance and improve the data available, notably for aquatic animal and wildlife diseases.
When becoming members of the OIE, countries are required to comply with the reporting obligations described in the OIE Terrestrial and Aquatic Codes (chapter 1.1). In the period analysed from 2005 to 2018, a marked increase was observed in the number of immediate notifications (from 91 to 332) and follow up reports (from 164 to 1655) submitted to the OIE, suggesting a better compliance with these obligations. To detect and prevent disease events and spread that may come, not only the quantity of information matters but also its quality and timely submission. In this regard, the analysis shows that members encounter difficulties in confirming a disease and submitting immediate notifications within 24 hours of event confirmation, as required in the OIE Codes for important epidemiological events.
Animal health is not a closed universe. Indeed, members may face difficulties in protecting themselves against disease introduced from other countries when events are notified to the OIE with long delays. Thus, Veterinary Services were encouraged to increase their reactivity and the quality of the information submitted through WAHIS.
For some diseases, this can be achieved by boosting the cooperation with other sectors and stakeholders. In Kenya, in June 2018, the Ministry of Health reported the first case of Rift Valley fever (RVF) in humans, linked to the consumption of meat from a sick animal. Watch this spotlight with Kenyan OIE Delegate, Dr Obadiah Nyaga Njagi, on how this situation led to a joint investigation with the Ministry of Livestock resulting in the early detection of RVF in animals and its notification the same day that the human case was declared.
“How do the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Livestock work together to detect and notify the human and animal cases of Rift Valley fever in Kenya?”
Dr Obadiah Nyaga Njagi, OIE Delegate of Kenya
Collecting data to better respond to the impact of aquatic animal and wildlife diseases
The analysis also underlined gaps in reporting diseases mainly those affecting aquatic animals and wildlife, even though their impacts can be devastating and go far beyond animal health.
Aquatic animal disease outbreaks cost the global aquaculture industry over US$6 billion per year and threatens the livelihoods of more than 50 million of people. Furthermore, biodiversity can also be markedly affected by these diseases since wild and farmed aquatic animals often share the same environments below water. Countries were called to improve aquatic animal health networks in their countries as a way to facilitate the collection and notification of this information.
Watch this spotlight with Dr Christianne Bruschke, OIE Delegate of the Netherlands, to learn about the impact of the Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans outbreak in 2010 on the fire salamander population and the importance of reporting the disease in WAHIS to prevent its further spread.
“What was the impact of Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans in the amphibian population of The Netherlands
and how can notification in OIE-WAHIS help prevent its further spread?”
Dr Christianne Bruschke, OIE Delegate of The Netherlands
In the particular case of non OIE listed diseases in wildlife, selected by the OIE Working Group to be monitored, countries were encouraged to submit information on them through the specific Annual report for wildlife as a way to reduce their potential consequences on livestock, public health and biodiversity.
Towards a revolution in animal health information: OIE-WAHIS renovation
To support countries overcome these challenges the OIE is currently revamping its WAHIS platform. The next steps of the process were presented at the General Session, as well as the innovative solutions that it will bring to the global health community. The new OIE-WAHIS is planned to go live in the first part of 2020.
The development of a scaled-up version of WAHIS is at the core of the OIE 6th Strategic Plan and will offer new features making it much easier for Veterinary Services to report animal disease outbreaks in their countries. These features will be designed to facilitate the reporting process, the flow of information from national to international level and the management of access to the data entry platform.
Consequently, this new user friendly, intuitive and more efficient platform will contribute to fulfill some of the reporting gaps of OIE members while ensuring the multiple benefits of an enhanced transparency on the animal health situation worldwide. Learn more.