Animal health


Effective and timely policies, strategies, plans, laws and regulations are essential for sustainable improvement of animal health, thereby enhancing livestock production and productivity, livelihoods and food security. As animal health is closely linked to human and environmental health, policy-related activities should follow a One Health approach to effectively address complex health issues, which involves close cooperation between livestock, environment and public health stakeholders.

Animal health policy work – what we do

FAO assembles and generates technical and socio-economic information and facilitates dialogue in its Member Countries to formulate, enhance or implement policies, strategies, plans, laws and regulations that increase the capacity at national and local levels to prevent, detect and respond to animal diseases and related human health threats. The ultimate goal is to create a policy framework that results in functional animal health services, comprising both public and private actors that cooperate and complement each other to effectively provide services and goods to livestock actors along the livestock value chain.

As all livestock diseases are potentially transboundary - meaning they can spread across borders through the movement of humans, animals, products or other routes - FAO also provides platforms for Member Countries to align their policy and legislative framework and cooperate to effectively address animal threats that are regionally and globally relevant.

Supporting animal health policies – how we do it

FAO systematically assembles, processes and even generates data and evidence on animal health related issues, with the objective to support evidence-based decisions.

FAO provides expertise, guidelines, tools and standard operating procedures to identify policy and legislative gaps as well as good practices to detect, prevent and control animal diseases.

FAO facilitates multi-stakeholder and multi-disciplinary dialogue at local, national, regional and global level to support the development of an animal health policy and legislative framework that effectively assists in the prevention, detection and control of animal diseases.

FAO cooperates with its Members to implement specific activities on the ground, which support the implementation of existing animal health policies, laws and regulations.

FAO policy work can also be focused around particular diseases, issues, countries or regions – these include:

Examples of success
  • Evidence provided through FAO’s Emergency Prevention System (EMPRES) led to Rift Valley fever forecasting and early warning messages being issued to eight countries in Africa and the Middle East, allowing policy preparation before outbreaks occurred in 2018.
  • Tools including the Surveillance Evaluation Tool (SET) are supporting development of effective animal disease surveillance and detection policies. For example, recommendations from a SET mission in Liberia guided the creation of an epidemiology unit within the Ministry of Agriculture.
  • Dialogue between policy makers and animal health experts, supported by FAO in East Africa, has led to development of Preparedness and Response plans for Rift Valley fever in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
  • Action on the ground including technical support and policy guidance provided through the Emerging Pandemic Threats and Global Health Security Agenda programmes - implemented by the Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) across Asia, Africa and the Middle East – has increased animal health services capacity to prevent, detect and respond to emerging infectious and zoonotic diseases.