The primary functions of the World Animal Health Organization, also known as the Office International des Épizooties (OIE), are preventing and raising awareness of zoonoses worldwide. OIE was created in January 1995 as part of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement), which aims to harmonize animal health standards and thus reduce their dampening effect on international trade. The main goals of the OIE are:
To ensure transparency in the global animal disease and zoonosis situation;
To collect, analyze, and disseminate scientific veterinary information;
To provide expertise and encourage international solidarity in the control of animal diseases;
Within its mandate under the WTO SPS Agreement, to safeguard world trade by publishing health standards for international trade in animals and animal products;
To improve the legal framework and resources of national veterinary services; and
To provide a better guarantee of the safety of food of animal origin and to promote animal welfare through a science-based approach.
Among other tasks, the SPS Agreement charges OIE with developing international standards, guidelines, and recommendations for protecting animal health and preventing zoonoses. To that end, OIE has developed the Terrestrial Animal Health Code and the Aquatic Animal Health Code, which provide OIE member countries with standards, guidelines, and detailed recommendations for establishing their own regulations regarding the importation of animals, animal genetic material, and animal products.
OIE is also responsible for improving systems by which information on animal health is gathered and analyzed on a global basis. OIE manages the world animal health information system, which uses data submitted by member countries to help identify the diseases, including zoonoses, that present the most serious threats to animal and human health worldwide. During the recent outbreak of avian influenza in Asia, OIE played a