12 August 2015

The Importance of animal health for global food security

In a recent article for Business Insider and the Telegraph, deputy director general of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), Dr Brian Evans, said that to ensure food security we must prevent and control diseases that have their source in animals used for food.

Delphine Valette, Head of Advocacy for the Brooke commented:

"At Brooke we believe that animal welfare can have an impact on owners and their families’ ability to access food, and we’re pleased that the OIE is speaking out about this important issue.

"Food security and livestock policy debates usually focus solely on production animals (be they food- or fibre-producing animals). The assumption is that non-production animals do not contribute to people’s livelihoods because they do not provide food or other quantifiable produce. As a result, working animals - including horses, donkeys and mules - are largely ignored in livestock policy and programmes.

"This is a mistake, given that in less developed countries working animals are absolutely critical to life for their owners, their families, and the industries they work in. These include agriculture, construction, and tourism.

This critical importance of working animals for people’s livelihoods in particular income generation was highlighted in a recent Brooke report Invisible Helpers - Women's views on the contributions of working donkeys, horses and mules to their lives which also revealed the devastating impact of a sick or dead animal for their welfare.

"International institutions such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO) and the OIE have acknowledged the importance and welfare needs of working animals through the 2011 FAO experts’ meeting on the role, impact and welfare of working (traction and transport) animals, as well as the OIE Standards for the Welfare of Working Equids, currently under development.

"However, much more needs to be done by international institutions, donors, national governments and other relevant stakeholders, to ensure that working animals are adequately considered in policy and practice."

“Safe food comes from healthy animals, and healthy animals come from healthy environments. We have to make sure that we are not losing animals to disease as they won’t be able to enter the food supplies. And for those which do go into the food supply, that they are not introducing health risks”

Dr Brian Evans, Deputy Director General of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)