Financing animal health emergencies: considerations for FAO and other animal health agencies
As the international community looks beyond the political agreements on climate change and the financial commitments to Haiti and Chile, attention must be refocused on financing animal health emergencies around the globe. The requirement for significantly scaled-up finance and investments to mitigate animal health threats is a central issue in global public health agendas. In recent past the world has seen the devastating effects of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the United Kingdom, foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in South America, and highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Southeast Asia. National and international health agencies have learned from these disease models to better approach future epidemics and to determine critical success factors. In view of this, the Animal Production and Health Division (AGA) at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) commissioned a study to analyze the conceptual and structural considerations that can be used to pitch donors into allocating capital flows to finance this type of emergencies.
The study approached in detail the mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery categories in each of the six phases typically used to resolve an emergency; namely:
 identification of the hazards and threats,
 determination of needs to deal with hazards and threats,
 design of solution(s),
 implementation of solution(s),
 evaluation of performance, and
 validation and adjustments to strategy.
Specifically, it focused on identifying multidimensional activities and associated expenditure lines related to field operations, disease intelligence, strategic planning, implementation logistics, public-private sector coordination, training, education and public campaigns, administrative procedures, governance, financial management, awareness-raising, and risk communications. Most importantly in recognition of the fact that multiple UN and non-UN agencies participate in emergency assistance the study zeroed in identifying the complex and diverse institutional linkages that exist (and sometimes arise) at international, regional, national, provincial, municipal, and local levels when dealing with sudden animal health emergency situations.
The preliminary findings of this study suggest that financing animal health emergencies must be dependent on comprehensive emergency management planning supported by activity-based budgets, coupled with clearly defined chains of command, and connectivity of responsibility areas among participating stakeholders. Owing to the wide range of links encountered, it is imperative to implement credible, results-based, external auditing systems that provide rapid feedback to underperforming areas. Ongoing disease intelligence is pivotal in this process to inform decision makers on the changing interactions among diverse and shifting variables in socio-ecological landscapes. Lastly, it is important to keep in mind that donors pay particular attention to a number of factors including political risk, transparency, the legal and regulatory environment, accountability, foreign exchange issues, governance, institutional capacity, and existing infrastructure to support country activities. Funding and investments to address animal health emergencies need to be considered alongside the rapid evolution of other components of the global architecture on climate change, energy and food security, terrorism, poverty reduction, and unexpected natural disasters that compete for limited economic, human and physical resources.
This study was carried out by Bob Burden, a Canadian consultant, under the overall guidance of Anni McLeod, Senior Livestock Policy Officer and Nicoline de Haan, socio-economic coordinator for avian influenza and other transboundary animal diseases at FAO.
The final version of this study is forthcoming. If you would like to receive an electronic copy of this study, please feel free to request one by sending us an email message.