The World Organisation for Animal Health turns 100: A century of improving animal health and welfare


Paris (France), 25 January 2024 – The World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) proudly commemorates 100 years of unwavering commitment and its achievements in advancing animal health and welfare worldwide. The journey leading up to WOAH becoming the global authority on animal health has been marked by a long history of pivotal moments.  

Established in 1924, WOAH was founded when 28 nations united to combat Rinderpest, one of the deadliest animal diseases of its time. This initiative, addressing the challenges posed by rising international trade of animals and their products, laid the foundation for WOAH’s leading role in international animal health and welfare. In 2011, Rinderpest became the first ever animal disease to be declared globally eradicated. Today, the 28 signatory countries of the 1924 International Agreement have grown to 183 Members. In May 2023, the Organisation, formerly known as OIE (Office International des Epizooties), underwent a comprehensive branding exercise and aligned its acronym with its common name, the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH). 

Scientific rigour and transparency have been our guiding principles from our inception to date. Over the past century, the world has witnessed dramatic changes, from the spread of communicable diseases to climate-related disasters and growing inequalities. Today’s emerging challenges have fundamentally reshaped the notion of animal health and welfare. This has called for a constant evolution of our mandate, our collaborations, health governance, and new fields, such as addressing animal health in emergencies.  

Driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, the One Health approach has gained strong impetus leading to the formation of the Quadripartite partnership with FAO, UNEP and WHO to ensure that human health, animal health and environmental health are more closely integrated. By monitoring and disseminating knowledge on animal diseases, we have strived to limit their adverse effects on society. For an entire century, we have been at the forefront of controlling infectious animal diseases using innovation as our driving force.  

Solidarity and close collaboration with our Members have been at the heart of our success. These close ties have been key to sourcing accurate and timely information, and building tools that aid in controlling disease outbreaks and resolving other animal-health related issues. Overtime, we have further brought animal health into the larger discussion on everyone’s health. Our purpose has been to promote the nuanced understanding that animal health is not an isolated universe and that partnerships, programmatic interventions, shared expertise as well as communication and public advocacy can contribute to a safer and more sustainable world.  

While our founding values remind us of our driving purpose, celebrating this centenary offers a critical opportunity to look to the future and see how emerging trends will impact animal health and welfare. For this reason, our Organisation has embarked on an in-depth foresight exercise to coincide with the anniversary to start framing responses for future scenarios in a fast-paced world. 

We are proud of our rich history and dynamic present as the global authority on animal health and welfare. Encouraged by this centenary, we are more determined than ever to navigate new challenges defining our future path ahead with the collective expertise and conviction of our staff and entire network of partners,” says WOAH Director General Dr Monique Eloit.  

We are addressing interconnected challenges – based on collaboration, innovation and inclusivity. As we embark on the next century, we will continue to evolve, adapt and collaborate with our Members, the scientific community and the veterinary workforce alike. We aim to further engage policymakers who play a role in building the future architecture of global animal health and welfare.  

From the threat posed by avian influenza and antimicrobial resistance to zoonotic diseases and the sustainability of animal production, several challenges lie ahead. Cross-sectoral collaboration and multilateralism will remain a centrepiece of our action, recognising that global issues with cascading implications cannot be solved by single actors.   

This centenary provides a fitting opportunity to express our immense gratitude to all our Members, stakeholders, partners, supporters and employees for their invaluable support. We are looking forward to our continued journey towards a stronger, better and more resilient animal health, for everyone’s health. 

Join us as we mark our 100th anniversary and do not miss our activities throughout the year to be part of our celebrations.