All around the world, animal disease agents, including those transmissible to humans, have the potential to escape by accident from laboratories or to be used as biological weapons because of their wide ranging economic, health and social impacts, their low cost and their ready availability. The OIE Global Conference on Biological Threat Reduction, held in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), brought together key actors from international organisations and national governments to agree on priority actions and common messages. The participants who represented the public health, animal health, ecosystem health, and security sectors included educators, policy and decision makers, scientists, security officers, veterinarians and medical doctors.

The conference report and recommendations (endorsed by the participants on Thursday 2 July 2015) are now on line from the OIE.

Under-investment in health systems, war or civil unrest, climate change, natural disasters, terrorism and crime were all identified as potential global health threats because they threaten the ability of animal and public health systems to provide the very basic needs. Countries with weak health systems are particularly vulnerable and, in an age when infectious diseases can travel across borders so quickly, this is a threat to the whole international community. Robust well governed animal and human health systems are resilient and provide protection against a spectrum of threats from naturally occurring diseases, to emerging diseases, bioterrorism and laboratory accidents.

A key outcome of the meeting was that good governance of animal and public health national systems allowing early detection and rapid response to any new disease outbreak protects the society and neighbouring countries from potential disasters of natural, accidental or intentional origin.