The World Organization for Animal Health (Office Internationale des Epizooties, OIE) lays down international standards for the control of animal diseases (Terrestrial Animal Health Code, Aquatic Animal Health Code, Manual of Diagnostic Tests and Vaccines for Terrestrial Animals).
Every year, the standards are drawn up or modified by groups of experts on the basis of new scientific findings. These standards contain e.g. recommendations for risk analyses and monitoring of animal diseases, import and export regulations or requirements of laboratories and quarantine stations. Any one of the 167 member states can comment on these proposals.
The Federal Veterinary Office (FVO) delegates experts to the working groups on BSE, Tuberculosis and IBR.
Reporting of animal diseases
Every member state reports on animal diseases diagnosed on their own territory. The OIE makes sure that the relevant information is passed on to other countries, so that they can take preventive action.
Since the beginning of 2006, the OIE has been operating a global electronic reporting system for animal diseases - the World Animal Health Information System WAHIS. All member states are under an obligation to enter immediate, semi-annual and annual reports of animal diseases in this system.
Since 2006, the OIE has been in the process of establishing the internet-based Global Early Warning and Response System (GLEWS) for zoonooses (diseases transmissible from animals to humans) together with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Food Organisation (FAO). This is designed to make up for the weaknesses of previous early warning systems.
With its "Fonds mondial", the OIE also supports veterinary services of various countries in order to promote animal health and welfare in these countries.
Animal welfare as an added focus
Animal welfare does not stop at national borders. In 2004, therefore, the OIE for the first time devoted a global conference exclusively to issues of animal welfare. The conference brought together all the groups concerned: government representatives, scientists, representatives of industry and charitable organisations from all over the world.
The aim is to improve animal welfare standards worldwide. With its 167 member states and as official interlocutor in WTO negotiations, the OIE carries some weight on questions of international animal welfare.
FVO and OIE
The Director of the FVO is the official Swiss delegate to the OIE. Scientific experts from the FVO may be invited to sit on various committees of the OIE with a view to drawing up expert reports. The coordination of work for the OIE is undertaken by the international division of the FVO.