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The challenge

Poor animal health has societal and environmental consequences

Livestock are critical to human nutrition and livelihoods, especially for smallholder farmers in low- and middle-income countries. Productivity losses occur due to diseases, inadequate access to feed and clean water, injuries and predation. Particularly for those in rural areas, poor animal health is directly linked to poverty, malnutrition and risk of zoonotic disease exposure, leading to poor human health. At the global level, poor productivity of diseased animals contributes to climate change and environmental degradation as more resources are required to grow the same amount of meat, milk or wool.

Investments to prevent animal diseases and health problems are increasing globally. Information on where this money is being spent, to address which problems, and what effect it is having, is poorly documented and badly understood across the global livestock sector, especially in smallholder contexts. The result is a limited ability of both the public and private sectors to target resources at specific social, economic, and environmental issues that will have the most significant impact on global agrifood systems.

Our response

We’re part of a global team

The Global Burden of Animal Diseases (GBADs) programme is a worldwide initiative aimed at building a standardised data sharing platform. The  epidemiological and economic data on the platform will be used to assess the overall societal cost of livestock diseases in different production systems around the world.

The programme comprises several research themes, each tasked with developing and testing a specific part of the GBADs methodology. Research approaches will initially be evaluated in a small number of case study countries, then expanded to additional countries and sectors.

We are leading research to quantify livestock populations and the current economic investment in livestock production. This provides the basis for differentiating the burden of animal disease by species, production purpose and region. Our researchers are also leading a case study in Indonesia, where we will apply methods developed by other GBADs themes to quantify the economic, social, and environmental burden of animal production losses.

We are currently considering an Australian case study as part of this research.

Visit the website of the Global Burden of Animal Diseases (GBADs).

The results

GBADs will inform future investments in animal health and production

GBADs will enable society to examine animal health and the disease burden from a fresh perspective. It will provide science-backed information on individuals and communities which are the most impacted. GBADs will also describe the burden in economic terms and demonstrate how animal health is associated with agricultural productivity, smallholder household income, the empowerment of women and the equitable provision of a safe, affordable, nutritious diet.

This information will be generated on a regular basis to advocate on the need for investment in animal health systems, help allocate resources to where this need is greatest (e.g. to specific production systems or diseases), and to evaluate the impact of these investments over time.

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