In November 2014, the Ministry of National Food Security and Research hosted a mission from the World Animal Health Organisation (the OIE http://www.oie.int) which undertook a strategic review of animal health controls in Pakistan. This review, termed a “Performance of Veterinary Services” (PVS) follows a standard approach for assessing the capacity a country to apply effective animal health controls in line with the OIE standards (the PVS Pathway). The OIE is one of the three internationally mandated bodies for Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Standards (the others being Codex Alimentarius for food safety and the International Plant Protection Convention for plant health). These bodies set the international standards to be applied under WTO rules for SPS measures in the international trade of food and agricultural products.
The OIE international experts were Dr. Sloboden Cokrevski (Macedonia), Dr.John Woodford (UK) and Dr.Moisés Vargas-Terán (Mexico). They were hosted in the mission by the Animal Health Commissioner of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research (Dr.Qurban Ali), and supported by national consultant (Dr. Saeed Ahmad) appointed by the TRTAII project. TRTAII also assisted with logistical support and the holding of three awareness raising and preparatory workshops (in Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore) in the period immediately before the mission. The OIE experts undertook an intensive programme of visits, reviewing the work of the Animal Quarantine Department in border controls, the National Veterinary and Poultry Laboratories, and Livestock and Dairy Departments of Provincial and District Governments, as well as the organisation of field level controls, regulation of veterinary medicines and veterinary education provision. They reviewed legislation, organisation structures, arrangements for inspection of meat and products of animal origin, epidemiological surveillance, and animal movement controls, as well as assessing the extent of important functions such as vaccine production, risk assessment and communication with international partners. At the end of the mission, the team expressed their appreciation for the organisation of the mission, and the very positive spirit in which they had been received at all levels of organisation.
The international experts will apply the “OIE Tool for the Evaluation of Performance of Veterinary Services” (the OIE PVS Tool) which will assess Pakistan’s performance against the international standards published in the Terrestrial Animal Health Code. The resulting PVS report, which is expected to be received after peer review in early 2015, will be used to identify the areas of animal health controls which will need strengthening in the future. The report is eagerly awaited, and will provide the most useful tool for the future actions required to bring Pakistan into line with international standards (such as new legislation, training, upgrading of surveillance). This process will greatly facilitate the further development of the livestock sector, which has enormous potential in terms of international and regional trade, but until now is conducted without full regard for the international standards.