The highest authority in controlling animal diseases lies with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Department of Food (MMMRO).
As the government authority, the Finnish Food Authority directs and monitors implementation of and compliance with the legislation.
In the Regional State Administrative Agencies, the Provincial Veterinary Officers ensure that the legislation is implemented and observed in their areas. There are six Regional State Administrative Agencies operating in twelve locations in mainland Finland. In the Åland Islands, the corresponding authority is the State Department of Åland.
On local level, the planning and implementation of veterinary care are the responsibility of the municipal veterinary surgeon in municipalities or joint municipal boards, and inspecting veterinary surgeons in slaughterhouses.
The national veterinary care preparedness system, set up to combat highly contagious animal diseases, consists of about 80 veterinary surgeons who assume the main responsibility for implementing emergency measures in a crisis situation. The preparedness veterinarians undergo regular training in controlling highly contagious animal diseases.
Fighting animal diseases in cases of animal imports from outside the EU is mainly the remit of border veterinary surgeons who carry out veterinary border inspections. Control of animal imports from the EU countries is the responsibility of Provincial Veterinary Officers and municipal veterinary surgeons.
In monitoring animal health, there are no other competent authorities apart from the official veterinary surgeon in his own area. However, veterinarians other than official veterinary surgeons are also obliged to notify suspected cases of serious animal diseases and to initiate the necessary preliminary measures on the farm to prevent the disease from spreading. In an effort to prevent the spread of an animal disease, official assistance may be requested from the Police, Rescue Service or Defence Forces. In such an event, the Provincial Veterinary Officer coordinates the concerted effort.
Planning control measures and preparedness for serious animal diseases
Finnish Food Authority draws up an annual plan of monitoring programmes for animal diseases that must be controlled by law. The risk-based nature of the control measures is acknowledged when preparing the monitoring programmes by targeting the sample-taking on animals in which the infection or antibodies to the pathogen are most likely to be found, or animals in which an infection would pose the greatest risk of its spreading to other farms.
Control of animal diseases is also effected under statutory health monitoring programmes, as well as at every farm visit by a veterinarian and during inspections in slaughterhouses. In case of suspected serious animal diseases arising from veterinary inspections or laboratory tests, Finnish Food Authority has drawn up directions for national preparedness plans. The preparedness plans have been produced primarily for cases of the highly infectious and combatable animal diseases most likely to pose a threat to the health of Finnish animals and the spread of which in the Finnish animal population would cause the greatest losses to animal production.
The Provincial Veterinary Officer draws up a regional preparedness plan complementing the national directions and containing detailed instructions in the event of cases of highly infectious animal diseases within his area.
The preparedness plans are updated every year, if necessary. Regular preparedness exercises are carried out to ensure that the plans work in practice.
Directing the monitoring and implementation of orders
Finnish Food Authority directs and oversees implementation of monitoring programmes by issuing the orders and directions on specimen-taking under the programmes to Regional State Administrative Agencies or direct to slaughterhouses. The Regional State Administrative Agencies issue the directions to the municipal veterinary surgeons in their area. In addition, Finnish Food Authority prepares an annual set of guidelines for Provincial Veterinary Officers and slaughterhouses on updating monitoring programmes and preparedness plans. For certain animal diseases, a guidebook has also been prepared for producers and control authorities.
Implementation of the orders is monitored during subsequent farm visits, for example regular farm visits under health monitoring programmes, or in animal disease cases, visits required in order that restrictive orders may be revoked. These visits are always used to ensure that previous orders have been followed.
The Regional State Administrative Agency monitors implementation of monitoring programmes in its area through notifications received from municipal veterinary surgeons.
Reporting of animal disease outbreaks and monitoring results
Regular reports on the incidences of animal diseases and control results and measures are submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the EU Commission, the European Food Safety Authority EFSA, and the World Organisation for Animal Health OIE.