A century of improvements in animal health and welfare

Paris (France), 25 January 2024 – The World Organization for Animal Health (WHOA) proudly celebrates 100 years of unwavering commitment and achievements in promoting animal health and welfare around the world. The path that has led WHOA to become the world authority on animal health has been marked by a long history of turning points.

Created in 1924, OMSA was founded when 28 countries came together to combat rinderpest, one of the deadliest animal diseases of its time. This initiative, which responded to the challenges posed by the increase in international trade in animals and their products, laid the foundation for the Organization’s leadership in the field of international animal health and welfare. In 2011, rinderpest became the first animal disease to be declared eradicated globally. Today, the 28 signatory countries of the 1924 international agreement have become 183 members. In May 2023, the organization, formerly known as OIE (Office International des Epizooties), underwent an extensive corporate rebranding exercise and combined its acronym with its common name, World Organization for Animal Health (WHO). .

Scientific rigor and transparency have been our guiding principles from our inception to today. Over the past century, the world has seen dramatic changes, from the spread of infectious diseases to climate-related disasters and rising inequalities. Today’s emerging challenges have changed the perception of animal health and welfare and require continued development of our mandate, our collaboration, health administration and have introduced new areas of action such as treatment of animal health in emergency situations.

Inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic, the One Health approach has gained momentum, leading to the formation of a quadrilateral partnership with FAO, UNEP and WHO that seeks to ensure greater integration of human health, animal health and environmental health. By monitoring and spreading knowledge about animal diseases, we have worked to limit their adverse effects on society. For a century, we have been at the forefront of fighting infectious animal diseases using innovation as the driving force.

Solidarity and close collaboration with our members has been key to our success. These close relationships have been instrumental in obtaining accurate and timely information and creating tools to help control disease outbreaks and solve other animal health problems. Over time, we have included animal health in the general debate about everyone’s health. Our aim is to foster a nuanced understanding that animal health is not an isolated universe and that partnerships, programmatic interventions, shared expertise, as well as communication and public support can contribute to a safer and more sustainable planet.

While our founding values ​​remind us of our goals, celebrating this centenary provides an important opportunity to look to the future and reflect on how emerging trends will impact animal health and welfare. For this reason, and to coincide with its centenary, our organization has launched an intensive foresight exercise aimed at beginning to formulate responses to future situations in a world that is moving at a fast pace.

We are proud of our history and our dynamism which positions us as a world authority in the field of animal health and welfare. Encouraged by this century, we are more determined than ever to face new challenges by defining our future path with the collective experience and conviction of our entire network of employees and partners.

Dr. Monique Eloit, Director-General of WHOA.

Based on collaboration, innovation and inclusion, we are working on interconnected challenges. As we begin a new century, we will continue to grow, adapt and collaborate with our members, the scientific community and veterinary staff. Our goal is to advance policy makers who play a role in shaping the future structure of global animal health and welfare.

From the threat posed by avian influenza and antimicrobial resistance to zoonotic diseases and the sustainability of animal production, there are many challenges that lie ahead. Interregional cooperation and multilateralism will remain at the heart of our action, recognizing that global problems with wide-reaching impact cannot be solved by single actors.

This centenary is a good opportunity to express our immense gratitude to all our members, associated sectors, partners, associates and employees for their invaluable support. We look forward to continuing our journey towards stronger, better, more resilient animal health for the benefit of everyone’s health.

Join us on our centenary and don’t miss our activities throughout the year to be a part of our celebrations.

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