World Veterinary Day - 2018

Dr K Rashbehari Singh *

World Veterinary Day observed at Lamyanba Shanglen on April 28 2018
World Veterinary Day observed at Lamyanba Shanglen on April 28 2018 :: Pix - IT/DIPR

World Veterinary Day (WVD) 2018 was celebrated globally on 28th April 2018 on the theme "The role of the veterinary profession in sustainable development to improve livelihoods, food security and safety". The WVA (World Veterinary Association) and IOE (World Organization for Animal Health) are organizing the World Veterinary Day Award to reward the most successful contribution by the veterinary profession on the selected theme for 2018 and the winner of the award will be announced on the WVA and OIE websites on 15th June 2018.

Livelihood is defined as adequate stock and flow of food and cash with an individual or family to meet its basic needs. A livelihood is sustainable when it can cope with and recover from the stresses and shocks and maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets both now and in the future without undermining the natural resources base.

Over 80 per cent of the poor in developing and emerging countries live in rural areas and rural livelihood deserve particular attention since they play a major role in eradicating poverty and inequalities, and in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.

In India, where a majority of families, in both farm and non-farm sectors, derive their livelihood from agriculture and allied activities, sustainability of agriculture and allied activities cannot be defined in isolation of the issue of livelihoods. Animals are indispensable for the livelihood and access to food for the large part of the world population that lives in rural areas.

For many of them, animals are their main source of income and a means to exit from poverty. On average, livestock contribute some 40 per cent of agricultural GDP. Animals help to keep the soil fertile and provide traction for ploughing and transport. The world's population is projected to grow by one-third, reaching between 9 billion and 10 billion people by 2050.

A substantial increase in per capita meat, dairy, and fish consumption is anticipated with trade globalization, increased urbanization, and expected growth affluence. To meet the nutritional needs of the population of 2050 and its demand for animal products will require a significant research and development (R&D) investment so that the productivity of today can be sufficiently enhanced.

Food products produced by the livestock for human consumption and processing include eggs, meat and meat products, milk and milk products, blood, viscera, as well as rendering by-products such as brains, ears, feet, skin, testicles, tongues and udders. Other by-products for value - adding systems for commercial purposes are bones, horns and leathers. Income generated from the livestock based food products and by-products are used to produce more food to feed an ever- increasing world population. For this very region, provision of veterinary services by national and regional agencies is a key component for supporting sustainable production of food from animal origins.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) defines food security as "a situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life". Food security can vary by degree, over time, from household to household, or among communities.

Due to globalization, rapid economic growth of two decades, world population growth and rise of middleclass incomes, demand and consumption of livestock products increases. However, certain high impact diseases do not allow animal husbandry to flourish. Again, less dramatic diseases also leads to lower production efficiencies and associated financial losses due to mortality and morbidity. Poor animal health negatively influences animal welfare. There is direct correlation between provision of veterinary services and the quality of livestock production. As such, food security should be given due importance as food animals support the livelihood and nourishment of almost a billion people.

If we are to nourish today's global 815 million hungry and the additional 2 billion people expected by 2050, a profound change of the global food and agriculture system is needed.

Climate change is an emerging stressor and is commonly recognized to have major implications for food security and livelihoods. Extreme droughts and floods impede people's ability to grow food and rear livestock. Pastoralists and agro-pastoralists will need to adapt to changes in water regimes in order to maintain their food security and well-being.

Improving our understanding of the relationships among climate, food, and livelihood is more than scholarly imperative - it is also necessary to help and guide practical initiatives, such as policies, programmes, and actions, intended to sustain or improve the livelihoods and food security of the people. Further, people's capacity to achieve food security is influenced by a variety of economic, institutional, and social conditions.

Food security is a multidimensional phenomenon that reflects a complex interaction of multiple stresses (e.g. political, institutional, social, biophysical, and economic). Food security can be seen as one dimension of a broader livelihood strategy and a host of stresses can interact to affect food security at a household or individual level.

The major long-term challenge to global food security will be to meet the increased demand and changing diets of the world's rapidly increasing population, the majority of whom will be children and youth. To keep pace with the increasing demand of global food production by 2050, there is need of 70 per cent increase of global food production.

Food safety is a scientific discipline describing handling, preparation, and storage of food in ways that prevent food-borne illness. Food safety is essential for public health and safety standards and regulations are necessary to improve inspection of foods. Cross-contamination is the most important factor relating to the presence of pathogens in prepared foods.

Access to sufficient and safe food is a basic human necessity and essential for creating a world without hunger and for achieving poverty reduction worldwide. While everyone is exposed to food borne health risks, it is the poor who are most exposed and vulnerable to these risks.

For achieving food safety, strong functional links must be built between the public health and other sectors, particularly agricultural and animal health sectors, to ensure effective cross-sectoral collaboration. The public health sector must play a pivotal role in building a community of various stakeholders and partners, who share common goals and responsibilities.

This partnership should encompass consumer and school children, science and research, agriculture and fishery, tourism, trade, industry as well as regulatory authorities. A food safety problem in one country immediately puts other countries at risk if it is not addressed promptly.

For the control and inspection of animal products at all stages i.e. from farm to fork, and to guarantee safe food to the world population, veterinary profession is responsible. Thus, veterinary profession is delivering services for the benefit of society and animals and opens a wide range of employment fields.

Food safety is critical component of sustainable development. Safer foods contribute to less illness, and hence increase productivity and improved livelihood. Safe foods, conforming to international food safety standards, contribute to increased export, increased income. Food safety is critical to human nutrition and food security. Poor nutrition and food borne diseases often combine to a vicious cycle of worsening health. Therefore, there should be systematic integration of food safety, and policies and interventions to improve nutrition and food security.

For ensuring a safe and wholesome food supply to consumers, proper ante- and post-mortem inspections should be conducted strictly by the veterinarians so that only healthy animals exported, imported and distributed for preventing the risk of introducing detrimental diseases into the distant regions or other countries.

Veterinarians play dominant role in the fight against H5N1,highly pathogenic avian influenza since it surfaced in South East Asia in late 2003, affecting millions of people's health, livelihoods, and nutrition.

In execution of many developmental programmes, such as disease/rabies control, as well as animal production, health of the animals are very important and animal welfare is inextricably linked to animal health.

There are also many additional benefits of including animal welfare in relevant development programmes and these positively impact many key areas of development concern, such as poverty reduction, agriculture/livestock/fisheries and rural development, sustainable livelihoods, health/safety (including food safety and security), biodiversity/environment and disaster/emergency response work.

Production and consumption of animal products may cause food poisoning zoonotic diseases, and growing antibiotic resistance. It is important to take care of animal health and welfare for human health benefits which in turn would lead to a more sustainable and productive economy, as well as improve quality of life.

* Dr K Rashbehari Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is Retired Deputy Director (Extension Education), Central Agricultural University, Imphal
This article was webcasted on May 03 , 2018.

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