The role of animal health to meet the Sustainable Development Goals


Have we underestimated the role of animal health for reaching the Sustainable Development Goals? Yes, probably, would be the answer from the authors of the recently published report Animal Health in Development, by Professors Jonathan Rushton, University of Liverpool; Arvid Uggla and Ulf Magnusson both from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

Unhealthy animals not only lead to a low yield for the farmer. An unhealthy livestock is also a considerable risk for human health. Even our climate is harmed, as greenhouse gases per unit of production is higher with unhealthy animals.

Investments in animal health for better yield are challenging to achieve in low resource settings. Investments in animal health for the sake of a common good, such as human health or our climate, is of course way more challenging.

Sweden has an excellent track-record of combining a limited use of anti-biotics with high productivity and animal welfare. These experiences should be translated and used in development programs aiming resource poor settings,The authors strongly recommend the Swedish Development Agency, SIDA, and their colleagues globally to build upon these experiences in their programmes.

The report presents the significance of reliable animal health control systems in relation to sustainable and resilient livelihoods in low-income settings, with recommendations for sustainable development strategies.

Investing in animal health is a key opportunity for low income countries to gradually approach a number of the sustainable development goals that the international community has set up for 2030.

In a debate article published March 7, the authors point out three key action areas to successfully improve animal health in low income countries:

  1. We need to an improved understanding of which actions for animal health are the most efficient.
  2. A political leadership for global animal health. Sweden can and should take the first step!
  3. Set up and launch programmes for training and capacity building in low income countries. Education and research programs are long-term and sustainable investments!

Professor Ulf Magnusson and Associate Professor Sofia Boqvist from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, are currently preparing one of the workshops for Uppsala Health Summit 2017, focusing on how to implement measures for healthy livestock keeping when benefits are external to the farmer. 

→ Download the full report here!