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COMESA Secretariat working with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) through the Reinforcing Veterinary Governance in Africa (VET-GOV) programme this week held a regional seminar in Lusaka for member States on harmonization of legislation in the veterinary domain.

The workshop which started on Monday 3rd to 7th July was attended by legal and animal health experts from the region and beyond. Various discussions and presentations were made key among them on activities undertaken by COMESA and FAO in dealing with veterinary issues. 

The participants also discussed legislation examples that meet OIE standards at national and regional level. OIE Sub-Regional Representative for Southern Africa Dr. Moetapele Letshwenyo and COMESA Livestock Program Coordinator Dr Yoseph Mamo held a press briefing at the sidelines of the seminar during which they emphasized the need for current veterinary legislation to be updated.

“We have done a review of the legislation in all COMESA countries which found that some of the legislation was made in 1929 and the penalties are still written in Pounds Sterling. This is why updating and harmonizing these laws is urgent so that we can see growth and development in this sector,” Dr Mamo said.

He added that bringing the legislation up to date will help the region in several ways. These include being able to control the transfer of diseases from one country to another, control transfer of diseases from animal to humans, be able to trace diseases, establish a single window for border trade and an inspection center.

OIE Sub-Regional Representative for Southern Africa Dr. Moetapele Letshwenyo revealed that his organization has been convening similar seminars with other Regional Economic Communities throughout Africa in order to harmonise the veterinary laws.

“It is very frustrating when trade is not going on because of conflict of legislation. Updating and harmonizing legislation is necessary. We are now engaged in a practical exercise reviewing each legislation so that they speak one language and trade in livestock can go on smoother within COMESA. This is good for intra-regional trade. 

This seminar received financial support from the European Union through the  African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR.