The World Veterinary Association (WVA) and HealthforAnimals have announced a new collaboration, Animal Health Matters, which highlights how the greatest global challenges, from food security to zoonotic disease, cannot be conquered without managing and controlling disease in animals.

“It’s simple. Animal health matters. Recognizing this must be the starting point for tackling some of the world’s most difficult challenges,” explains Dr Rene Carlson, President of the WVA.

“Rabies is one of the clearest examples of the importance of collaboration — 95% of all human cases originate from a dog bite. This devastating, but preventable, disease kills 60,000 people every year, yet better dog vaccination programs would protect animal health whilst dramatically reducing the risk to humans.

“Likewise, topics such as antimicrobial resistance are beginning to be better understood, but more needs to be done to show why animal health matters, which is a key driver behind our latest collaboration with HealthforAnimals,” she adds.

The new online resource (Animal Health Matters) aims to educate and build greater awareness of the most pressing issues in animal and human health, including zoonotic disease, antimicrobial resistance, global food security and the future role and health of companion animals. Factors such as the impact of global conflicts, trade, how healthier animals mean healthier families and the ongoing focus on zoonotic disease are all debated within the new online resource.

As well as addressing the current trends affecting the industry, Animal Health Matters also looks to the longer term with items such as ‘Five trends for the next five years’, which assess the impact of new and emerging factors influencing animal health. These ‘Five trends’ include factors such as better surveillance systems for disease threat identification, how portable technologies are helping to fill the void in information about the movement and emergence of livestock disease, and how the role of new technologies, such as satellite data and smart ear tagging, are helping developed and developing nation farmers detect disease sooner.
“Animal Health Matters comes at a time when awareness of topics like ‘One Health’ and Zoonotic disease are beginning to be better understood by all animal health professionals, particularly the veterinary profession,” explains Carel du Marchie Sarvaas, Executive Director for HealthforAnimals. “The new website not only takes stock of the current state of the industry, and the challenges it faces now, but goes a step further and looks to the next 10, 20, 30 years and the issues facing a more globalized world, as well as outlining the potential dangers of not working more collaboratively with human health.”

The role of education specifically, and how it’s evolving to incorporate more ‘One Health’ issues also forms part of the report, and the WVA is encouraged particularly by the gradual move away from siloed teaching methods. “One Health is definitely better understood by studying and newly qualified veterinary professionals,” insists Dr. Carlson. “The proof of which is that we’re seeing a greater understanding among our young professionals of the need to align with medical professionals on how to apply preventative measures.”

To learn more about why animal health matters, or to sign up to the new monthly newsletter, visit www.animalhealthmatters.org.

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