A delegation of senior Australian experts has joined global authorities on animal health at the 90th General Session of the World Assembly of Delegates (WOAH) in Paris.

WOAH is the global authority on animal health, coordinating responses to animal health emergencies, leading the prevention of zoonotic diseases, and promoting of animal health and welfare. Its standards underpin trade and market access agreements.

The General Session brings many countries together in Paris, providing opportunities to discuss important issues through bilateral meetings. Australia’s delegation will meet with important international partners including Pacific representatives, France, European Union, USA, and others.

The Australian experts are led by Australia’s delegate to the WOAH and Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Mark Schipp and also includes members from the department, jurisdictional governments, and industry organisations. This includes representatives from CSIRO, the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA), Australian Chicken Meat Federation, Wool Producers Australia, and Wildlife Health Australia.

Alongside Dr Schipp, the department’s Dr Ingo Ernst, who is President of the WOAH Aquatic Animal Health Commission, is attending, as well as Professor Trevor Drew – Director of the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness at Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), who is Vice President of the WOAH Scientific Commission for Animal Diseases.

This is the first face-to-face meeting of WOAH since 2019 and is an important reminder of the solidarity of its 182 Members in the fight against infectious animal disease.

During the event, key organisational decisions and important international standards on animal health will be debated and agreed.

At the General Session, draft texts are voted on and adopted into WOAH’s international standards on animal health and welfare. Australia will advocate for standards that are effective, science-based, and don’t impose unjustified barriers on international trade.

The theme of this years’ WOAH General Session is high pathogenicity avian influenza (HPAI). While Australia is currently free from HPAI, opportunities to learn from overseas experiences and influence global approaches remain critical to ensuring Australia’s preparedness.

For the first time, an Animal Health Forum will explore this disease over the first day and a half of the General Session. The forum will allow countries’ delegates and other experts to discuss topics such as surveillance and monitoring for early detection and prevention, disease control strategies for prevention and control, trade aspects, and global coordination.

Australia’s delegation, which brings expertise on disease control, poultry, wildlife, and laboratory diagnostics, are eager to contribute to this global discussion and learn the lessons and challenges shared by other countries around HPAI.

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