The Nordic Council of Ministers for Fisheries, Agriculture and Forestry, and Food discussed the potential for developing Nordic co-operation on animal health and welfare.
Initially the council of ministers noted with satisfaction that a working group has now been set up under the auspices of EK-Livs, which will complement Nordic co-operation in this area, and it expressed clear expectations that the co-operation:
- will strengthen the Nordic countries' efforts to maintain and further develop high standards concerning animal health and welfare;
- will strengthen the countries' efforts to promote Nordic views regarding animal health; and
- will strengthe welfare in a global context.
This initiative will expand the existing activities in Nordic co-operation on animal health and welfare.
During a discussion on veterinary contingency planning it was agreed that this is a high priority in the Nordic countries. This contingency planning is of crucial importance to be able to prevent the spread of infectious diseases in domestic animals, and to implement effective measures for the containment and control of outbreaks of diseases such as foot and mouth, classic swine flu, Newcastle disease, avian flu etc.
There was similar agreement on establishing co-operation on risk assessment and thus developing an overall risk overview.
All the Nordic countries have a need for the continued development of contingency plans and monitoring programmes, staff training, development and maintenance of emergency equipment and disposal facilities, as well as plans and opportunities for emergency vaccinations, etc.
Building preparedness and the management of outbreaks of such animal diseases places huge demands on the authorities, is costly, and in some situations may be associated with such major logistical problems that it may be difficult for the individual country to manage with the available personnel and equipment.
On the face of it, the council of ministers considers that closer Nordic co-operation in contingency planning could improve preparedness and create a foundation for close co-operation to combat specific outbreaks of disease. The council of ministers is thus in agreement that these options should be explored, and has therefore adopted the following resolution:
"The Council of Ministers’ meeting in Århus on 30 June 2005 calls for the urgent development of proposals in the Nordic countries for the establishment of various forms of close co-operation in veterinary contingency planning between the competent authorities, and that this be followed up with appropriate initiatives in relevant areas. It is envisioned that this co-operation could be established in a variety of different areas, including the development of a strategic plan for joint Nordic contingency co-operation and the holding of emergency exercises, training of emergency personnel, loan of experts and equipment, vaccination contingency, policy wording, etc.
The Council of Ministers also requests a status report on the development of this area of co-operation at its summer meeting 2006".