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01-01-2008 - 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
concluded.
“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
costs”.

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