The case for investing in data-driven animal health systems

“To improve our current defences against emerging animal diseases, the world needs more focused and directed investment into the systematic collection, organisation, and use of existing animal health data,” writes SEBI-Livestock Director Prof Andy Peters in a recent guest essay published by InterPress service.

Firstly, we need more and better data on animal health. This includes greater surveillance of animal disease on farms, at border crossings and at wet markets, which are all important interfaces through which animal diseases can spread to humans.

Secondly, we must also ensure we make better use of our existing data. For instance, SEBI-Livestock is using advanced informatics to unlock insights from hard-to-reach data about disease prevalence and mortality, and making it more readily available to decision-makers and scientists in the Global South.

Furthermore, a better standard of data-sharing is also necessary in the fight against the future global health threats. Mechanisms and platforms through which doctors and veterinarians, governments and health authorities can share knowledge on emerging diseases and treatments are vital.

One visual tool developed by the Safe Medicines for Animals through regulatory training (SMArt) project helps animal health companies navigate complex regulatory processes, opening the door to improved animal health, and consequently, human health, around the world.

Finally, more investment in helping decision-makers harness this wide range of data for the livestock sector in low-income countries is essential. Low-income countries are disproportionately affected by neglected zoonoses, and the impact of epidemics and pandemics in these regions is exacerbated as a result, as demonstrated by Covid-19.

SEBI-Livestock have joined the  Action for Animal Health coalition together with groups such as the World Veterinary Association, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and Brooke to call for more support for better, and safer, animal health systems worldwide.

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Vanessa Meadu, Communications and Knowledge Exchange Specialist, SEBI-Livestock
Page created: 25 May 2021 Page last reviewed: 28 May 2021