The issues around animal health

Animal health encompasses the following issues:

  • Public health: according to the World Organisation for Animal Health, 75% of emerging human diseases are of animal origin. By helping to prevent infectious animal diseases, veterinary medicines contribute to health security.
  •  Animal health and well-being: companion animals in good health contribute to the emotional and psychological balance of a large fraction of the population, and in particular of the most vulnerable (the elderly, people living alone, etc.).
  • Competitiveness of stock farming, and making the agri-food sector safer and more secure: history teaches us that the cost of animal disease in Europe is considerable. Foot-and-mouth disease cost 12 billion euros in 2001 in the United Kingdom alone. In the Netherlands, swine fever cost 2.1 billion euros in 1997-1998, and bird flu cost 510 million euros in 2003. Within two years, the industry developed and produced, for the French market, over 120,000,000 doses of vaccines for bluetongue disease. From more than 32,000 outbreaks declared in 2008, this mobilisation of the sector brought the figure down to fewer than 90 outbreaks in 2009, to one outbreak in 2010, and to none in 2011.

On 4 December 2012, France gave the European Commission the information enabling France to recover its status as a bluetongue-free country. By helping to prevent infectious animal diseases, veterinary medicines contribute to health security, to food safety (healthy foodstuffs), and food security (production of high-quality proteins is secured).

  • Safety for the environment: the impact of farming on the environment is reduced by the use of veterinary medicines making it possible to limit the number of animals necessary for producing human food. In addition, the potential environmental risk related to granting marketing authorisations for veterinary medicines is kept under control by applications for such authorisations being required to include a part entitled “Assessment of the risks for the environment”. Thus, veterinary medicines are key instruments in sustainable development, reconciling public health, industrial development and environment protection, while also being fully in step with the concept of "One Health".

“One Health” is a global, coherent, and preventive initiative that reinforces the ties between human health, animal health, and environment management. This concept encompasses not only zoonoses but also pathologies having impacts on public health and on food security.

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