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22-12-2007 - Biosecurity guidelines and disease prioritisation

“Prevention is better than cure” is the

catchphrase of the new Community Animal

Health Strategy1 (CAHS), outlined by Eric Marin

(European Commission, DG Sanco) at the recent

joint meeting of the Union of European

Veterinary Practitioners (UEVP), the European

Association of State Veterinary Officers

(EASVO) and the Union of European Veterinary

Hygienists (UEVH) in November. The strategy

not only implies a reinforced risk based approach

on import controls, but also improved on-farm

biosecurity. “Good practice guidelines for each

farming sector would be drawn up by

veterinarians and farmers together”. E. Marin

also stressed that biosecurity “is not just for

farmers but also for veterinarians” and “also

applies to the sheep and cattle sector”.

Regarding cost-sharing schemes, he explained

that diseases would be listed according to priority

and public relevance, to be reflected in the funds

made available for their control. The

responsibility of the farmer or the industry as a

whole would also need to be assessed, and linked

to the share of public funding. “Brucellosis, for

example, is mainly a problem at farm-level.

However, as it remains a public health concern, it

could imply that a low percentage of the costs

could be expected to be paid for by public funds;

the rest would be borne by the farmer or the

sector”. As for Foot and mouth disease, “where

there is a high public relevance and action

remains mainly in hand of public bodies”, a

majority of the cost would come from public

funds – the EU share which could depend on

solidarity principles and the latest audit reports of

the Food and Veterinary Office.

He also announced the creation of an Animal

Health Advisory Committee, a group of

stakeholders that would monitor progress and give

strategic guidance to the Commission, for

example on disease priorities. The veterinary

profession, represented by FVE, should play an

active role” in this committee, Mr Marin


“The FVE is pleased with the shift from

interrelated policy actions to long-term goals and

strategy, and welcomes the perspective of an

Animal Health Law, recognised Jan Vaarten, FVE

Executive Director, speaking at the federation’s

general assembly. FVE supports the strategy that

aims for adequately funded veterinary services,

improved biosecurity, efficient reporting systems

and long-term farm health management

programmes. However, it is concerned about long

distance transport “and its potential contribution

to disease outbreaks and poor animal welfare.”

The federation is also concerned about the fact

that the strategy seems to focus on nonsustainable,

large volume-low cost production

systems. “In order to remain competitive, Europe

should invest in high quality, welfare-friendly

animal products”, he added.

The Economic and Social Committee (ECOSOC),

in its draft opinion by L. Nielsen of 14 November,

stresses that “veterinary border controls should

be based on an overall assessment of the actual

risk and should include spot checks, in order to

deter illegal trading”. Regarding disease control,

it recalls the dangers of (re)emerging diseases,

and suggests that “the EU should give greater

priority to prevention and combating such threats

both within the EU and internationally”. As for

the proposed cost-sharing system, ECOSOC

underlines “it is crucial that the incentive to

report immediately any suspicions about or cases

of disease outbreaks is not delayed by uncertainty

about the reimbursement of direct and indirect


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