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Deepening the understanding of the economics of animal health to optimise the management of disease threats

The economic impact of animal diseases is causing increasing concern, explained, in part, by the sheer scale of losses caused by specific diseases. Foot and mouth disease, highly pathogenic avian influenza and classical swine fever are examples of diseases which have harmful economic consequences, for productivity as well as for international trade. To optimise the performance of Veterinary Services when managing disease threats, and to prioritise the allocation of resources to improve animal health and welfare more effectively, it is advisable to have precise data on production losses as well as on the costs of preventing and controlling animal diseases.

Paris, 23 May 2016 – Focusing on the economic impact of animal disease outbreaks, the first Technical Item of the 84th General Session of the OIE was presented this morning by Professor Jonathan Rushton, of the Royal Veterinary College of London, based on an analysis of a questionnaire sent to the 180 Member Countries of the OIE.

The purpose of the analysis was to examine the operating costs of national Veterinary Services and animal disease control programmes, assess production losses caused to countries by enzootic transboundary diseases and the impact of diseases on trade and the wider economy, as well as to evaluate the need for veterinary education to include the economic and commercial impact of animal diseases.

Such information is also valuable in supporting animal health decisions and to ensure better guidance and justification when allocating resources to maximise the efficiency of Veterinary Services and animal disease prevention programmes.

©  OIE/J. Anguita

In general, the survey revealed Member Countries’ considerable interest in applying economics to animal health, since data were provided by nearly 120 of the 180 OIE Member Countries. However, it also highlighted:

  • the lack of good-quality information available on direct and indirect economic losses caused by animal diseases;
  • global disparities in the resources available for animal health, and limited access to those specifically trained in managing animal diseases in many regions of the world.

At the end of the analysis, several practical solutions were suggested, to provide the veterinary profession with the keys to better allocation of resources and more effective prioritisation of activities to manage animal disease. Among these recommendations:

  • enhancing the teaching of animal health economics in undergraduate veterinary training, postgraduate training and continuing education;
  • the establishment of a pilot project to evaluate the costs of animal disease, with data on animal production losses, control costs and the economic impact of animal diseases, particularly on international trade;
  • the implementation of a programme to gather regular data on the investments needed for the operation of Veterinary Services, including veterinary medical training, research and infrastructures.

The importance of investing in national animal disease notification systems and in updating the WAHIS platform, an essential tool for world animal health information and to support economic analysis, was also emphasised.  

To implement these recommendations, a Resolution will be put forward for adoption by the World Assembly of OIE Delegates on Friday, to endorse the conclusions drawn by the Technical Item.

Follow the General Session through the entire week: #OIE84SG

Further press information:



Tuesday 24 May, 1.15pm to 2.30pm

In the presence of:

  • Dr Botlhe Michael Modisane, President of the OIE
  • Dr Monique Éloit, Director General of the OIE
  • Dr Brian Evans, Deputy Director General of the OIE
  •  Prof. Jonathan Rushton and Dr Jean-Pierre Orand, rapporteurs of the technical items addressed during the General Session


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