In 1921, to solve the issue of international animal epidemic diseases, the Office International Des Epizooties (OIE) was initiated by 28 nations including Argentina, Egypt, France, Great Britain, Holland, Switzerland, etc. In 1924, the participants signed the official contract and set up the Intergovernmental Veterinarian Organization with headquarters in Paris, France. In May 2003 OIE adopted the common name World Organisation for Animal Health; in May 2022 amended the abbreviation as “WOAH”.
The purpose of the WOAH is to safeguard the trade of animals and animal products worldwide, improve the level of the world’s public sanitation, appoint all kinds of regional reference laboratories for major epidemic disease cases, and promote international cooperation in the joint defense of epidemic diseases.
The annual WOAH meeting is held in Paris, France once a year. Usually, the topics that are discussed include the following: major animal diseases, animal quarantine situations in different regions, and constituting of rules on animal health, inspection, and standards related to trade, etc. With committees in Europe, Africa, the Asia-Pacific region, Eastern Europe and America, etc., the WOAH holds a conference in one of the member nations every two years to discuss the issues such as how to prevent epidemic situations in separate regions and how to promote joint-defense against the severe epidemic diseases that occur in some regions.
On the importance of animal health in trade, the WTO signed the convention with the WOAH in 1998. The WOAH is commissioned to constitute the criteria, suggestions, and standards of animal health and sanitation related to trade according to the pact. Besides, Codex Alimentarius Commission (CODEX), WOAH, and other relative international and regional organizations of IPPC are observers of WTO. This shows that WOAH is playing a more important role worldwide.
It was in 1954 that Taiwan participated in the WOAH, previously described as the OIE. At present, being one of the senior members, we are responsible to report the animal epidemic situation in Taiwan periodically to form a network system among members; promoting regional joint-defense; to assist in the risk assessment of importing and exporting animals in Taiwan through the animal sanitation criterion and inspection standard constituted by the WOAH. In addition, when foot-and-mouth disease occurred in Taiwan in1996, the WOAH assisted us to identify disease types by providing us with the reference laboratory and the effective vaccines.