Since the 76th General Session of the World Assembly of National Delegates in May 2008, the OIE Delegates are requested to nominate focal points to help them in their work on specific issues. These focal points are under the authority of the OIE Delegate: any transmission of an information to the OIE from the focal points is to take place under the authority of the OIE Delegate. This also applies when focal points are located in other Departments or Ministries and not under the jurisdiction of the Veterinary Authority as, from a legal perspective, the OIE considers the official OIE Delegate to be the unique representative of the country.
While focal points serve primarily as a means for improved communication between Members and the OIE, their functions also include establishing networks and improved communications at country level between two or more Competent Authorities.
The OIE regularly strengthens the network of focal points in their respective areas of competence, mainly through training courses and workshops at regional and sub-regional levels. These seminars aim to provide participants with knowledge of the commitments and responsibilities of the OIE Delegate, and their specialist role in supporting them, in the standard-setting process, and on compliance with the OIE international standards, including in disease reporting and Veterinary Services. The trainings also raise awareness about regional and global issues and concerns outside of the national context. The seminars provide specialised and horizontal training across the OIE mandate on topics relevant to their area of expertise, while also promoting reflection on how national systems can further work towards compliance with the OIE standards, including via the PVS Pathway.
The OIE works to empower National Focal Points to share information with their relevant colleagues, provide further training on OIE standards to staff, and to better connect the areas of the Veterinary Services operating in the veterinary domain but not necessarily under the Veterinary Authority (e.g., aquatics, wildlife).