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BVA Congress
Disaster management: developing an ‘upstream’ approach

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A stream of lectures organised by the BVA Overseas Group at the BVA Congress on September 23 considered veterinary responses to natural disasters and the value of international research into animal diseases. Arianwen Morris reports

THE session opened with a talk from Juan Lubroth, chief veterinary officer and head of the Infectious Diseases Group of the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), who explained that the demand for high-quality animal-derived food was likely to increase and this would provide new opportunities and challenges for the veterinary profession.

The importance of vets internationally was reflected in the large number of organisations with varying remits that employed them, he said. These included the FAO, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the International Livestock Research Institute, the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Health Organization (WHO). There were even vets working for the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The animal health service at the FAO had three main departments, dealing with the prevention of emerging transboundary exotic diseases, veterinary public health and production diseases. A crisis management centre had also been established, with the concept that prevention strategies should be considered a form of emergency ‘response’. ‘We're trying to go more upstream,’ he said.

The FAO's view was that human, animal and ecosystem health overlapped. ‘FAO is very much a “One Health” organisation, reaching out to the OIE for standards setting where needed, the WHO for human health and zoonotic issues, and also the UN Environmental Programme,’ he said.

The FAO's mandate was to ‘defeat hunger, alleviate poverty and modernise and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries’. It had eight millennium development goals, including eradicating extreme poverty and hunger; promoting gender equality and empowerment of women; combating HIV/AIDS and other diseases; and working towards environmental stability and global partnership. He noted that …

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