AUSTRALIA: Nationally coordinated animal health programs: part 2
Posted: February 28th, 2012 - 8:08pm
Source: Animal Health Australia
AHA recently submitted a two-part opinion piece written by our Deputy CEO, Dr Ian Denney, to the Australian Veterinary Journal. We published part one on the News Board in early February, part two is featured below.
National animal health programs need broad input
In part one of this opinion piece I suggested that ‘corralling’ governments and industries into developing and delivering national livestock health programs was becoming more difficult, even though the need for such programs is not diminished. I thought it timely to consider other delivery models.
Complacency resulting from past successes is dangerous, particularly as we know that many of these were achieved under different conditions than apply today. Despite Australia’s favourable livestock health status, there are benefits to be gained from a national approach to targeted animal health programs, whether they are disease specific, e.g. bovine Johne’s disease, or more generally applied to health management, such as quality assurance and disease surveillance. Everyone in the production chain is affected by national requirements and therefore can, and perhaps should, contribute – from the producer to the retailer. Service providers such as veterinarians, transporters, agents, processors and animal health product suppliers are also important potential contributors to national programs.
Animal Health Australia has recently been expanding the traditional government/industry consultative base in developing new, and modifying existing, national animal health programs. This has reinforced the need for, and the benefits of, engaging as broad a group of contributors as possible. These diverse participants have helped ensure that the decisions made for the program are practical and achievable.
There are many factors that will determine the success or otherwise of national animal health programs. Whatever the program, it needs a strong reason or ‘driver’. Analysis of national programs that have succeeded, or are succeeding, reveals a number of possible ‘drivers’: public health benefits and trade factors provided reasons for managing bovine brucellosis; international market access was a reason for the national management of bovine tuberculosis and is so for arbovirus monitoring; domestic market access and consumer confidence ‘drive’ the program to manage enzootic bovine leucosis; productivity gains, biosecurity and animal welfare are key drivers for national Johne’s disease management programs and straight profitability was a key reason for managing bovine pleuropneumonia.
As well as producer level support and strong ‘drivers’, national programs require: long term goals; periodic evaluation; industry and government commitment (policy, regulation and funding); assured resources; engagement of producers and producer organisations; cross- species and production sector agreement; cross-jurisdictional agreement; technological soundness (tests, vaccines etc); comprehensive communication; and whole of production chain engagement.
Clearly identifying the potential beneficiaries and engaging them as contributors, both financially and in the development and delivery of national programs, is critical to their success. It is also one of the challenges for all of us committed to minimising the impact of health issues on our livestock industries. There is a definite role here for veterinarians individually and collectively.
Acknowledgement: Dr Lorna Citer and Dr David Kennedy provided valuable background information for this article.