Animal health

Surveillance and risk assessment

Outbreaks of animal and zoonotic diseases can have devastating impacts on trade, public health and livelihoods without timely detection and action. Good quality data is essential to better prepare for and respond to pre-existing and emerging threats to both livestock and people. This includes information on disease distribution, and understanding of risk factors for spread in animals and/or spill over to human populations. Only through an accurate disease picture can decision-makers implement evidence-based targeted prevention and control programmes that mitigate the impact of animal diseases.

Why FAO does this work

FAO Animal Health is supporting Veterinary Services in Member Countries to develop their surveillance systems and risk assessment capacities, providing experts and decision makers with high quality disease information in order to contribute to:

  • eradicating diseases and protecting livestock from endemic and emerging diseases, leading to a more sustainable food production system and promoting countries’ access to global food markets;
  • detecting cases of zoonotic diseases in animals before spill over to humans.
Partnership working

To achieve this, FAO provides a variety of resources and tools, and implements projects at the request of national governments, and in collaboration with partners such as the World Health OrganizationWorld Organisation for Animal Health and others.

Working closely with national governments, including veterinary services, and ministries of health and environment, FAO builds national capacities for surveillance and risk assessment of livestock and zoonotic diseases using a One Health approach.


FAO supports and advises countries to improve their animal health surveillance and risk assessment capabilities by:

  • Reviewing and publishing up-to-date disease information, including:
  • Enhancing national surveillance capabilities through:
    • Assessment of animal health surveillance systems using the FAO Surveillance Evaluation Tool (SET), followed by design of a targeted, step-wise improvement plan
    • Capacity building and training on risk assessment, risk mapping/forecasting, surveillance, data collection and analysis
    • Real-time disease reporting and analysis capabilities with the Event Mobile Application (EMA-i) and EMPRES-i
    • Laboratory support and proficiency testing
    • Supporting National Action Plans (NAPs) for Antimicrobial Resistance and Use

Through supporting the improvement of countries’ surveillance and risk assessment capacities, FAO Animal Health enables national governments to base implementation of disease control programmes on the best available data and methodologies.