New Global Burden of Animal Diseases programme launched

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Animal health leaders and researchers from University of Liverpool led Global Burden of Animal Diseases (GBADs) programme have secured more than £5.1m ($7m) from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, to rollout a framework on measuring animal health burdens and their impacts on human lives and economies. The information provided by GBADs will guide public policy and private sector strategy, contributing to improve animal health and welfare more effectively. It will also be a basis for further academic research.

Background

Across the world, livestock production and aquaculture are critical to human nutrition and health. These animals play critical roles in society, providing income and food, but also clothing, building materials, fertilizer and draught power. However, the presence of endemic and emerging diseases, as well as other factors, negatively impact them, jeopardising their contributions.

Every year, hundreds of millions of dollars are invested globally on disease mitigation in order to improve livestock health and productivity. Yet, a systematic way to determine the burden of animal disease on the health and wellbeing of people is not available. It is still unknown how the burden is apportioned between smallholders and the commercial sector, or across regions and gender. Consequently, decision makers lack the information to accurately assess whether their investments target the animal health issues that have the most significant impact on human wellbeing.

A new programme

The GBADs programme, led by the University of Liverpool, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and a partnership of international institutions, will enable the examination of animal health and the disease burden from a different perspective. By assessing the global burden in economic terms, the programme will help identify the individuals and communities which are the most impacted, demonstrating how animal health is intrinsically linked to agricultural productivity, smallholder household income, the empowerment of women and the equitable provision of a safe, affordable, nutritious diet.

Professor Dame Janet Beer, Vice-Chancellor, University of Liverpool, said: “The GBADs programme is a key part of our commitment to deploying our research capacity toward the welfare of humankind. The GBADs programme is crucial in building a world with zero hunger, good health, and equality for all, an urgent mission in which we are proud to play our part.

"We are grateful for the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, who are supporting this work in partnership with the OIE. Together, we will realise a brighter future for animal and human wellbeing,”

Dr Monique Eloit, OIE Director General, said: “It is more evident now for everyone that animal health and public health are interconnected and play an essential role in building a sustainable and healthy planet. Especially, if we succeed in incorporating the environmental and socioeconomic components.”

The new partnership will support the implementation of the GBADs programme. In a world where 1.25 billion people work in agriculture, this programme will have a positive impact on the Sustainable Development Goals contributing to Zero Hunger, Good Health and Well-being, Gender Equality; Decent Work and Economic Growth; and Responsible Consumption and Production.