Getting to grips with the Global Burden of Animal Diseases: Q&A with Prof Jonathan Rushton

By Vanessa Meadu

When it comes to tackling animal diseases, it’s surprisingly difficult to know where to prioritise action and what policies work best. Professor Jonathan Rushton tells us about building a new global approach to address the diseases that have the most profound impacts.

Why look at the Global Burden of Animal Diseases?

At the moment, animal diseases are prioritised based on mortality (number of animals that die) and morbidity (the prevalence of disease in an animal population), yet the evidence base for this approach is limited. There is also a tendency to focus on diseases that cause trade restrictions. This approach will always focus on the diseases that appear to cause big impacts – ones that kill animals quickly or create immediate trade barriers, and potentially we end up chasing the sparks from the fire. An example of this is foot and mouth disease (FMD), which I started working on in the mid-1990s in Bolivia. After some time, I realised that a lot of our estimates on foot and mouth are based on anecdotes rather than real data. Defining FMD as the most economically important disease in the world is not evidence based. Read more

SciDev.Net highlights impacts of missing livestock data in Africa

What happens when data about livestock health and productivity is unavailable or insufficient? SciDev.Net attended the recent meeting of the Livestock Data for Development (LD4D) Community of Practice (CoP) in Kenya, to hear from our members about the potential risks of missing data, and the opportunities that emerge when data comes together.

For instance, the experts said that the management of livestock diseases such as East Cost Fever requires data to effectively understand the impacts of the disease and its control interventions to prevent economic losses to smallholder farmers.

livestock data could boost the adoption of interventions for improving animal nutrition, husbandry, healthcare and genetics, which are important for increasing productivity.

The article goes on to mention some of the ways the LD4D community is tackling these issues, including bringing together livestock data suppliers and users, and enhancing the capacity of decision makers to use available data.

Read the full story: Impacts of missing livestock data in Africa – SciDev.Net Sub-Saharan Africa

Learn more about LD4D’s work via our Working Groups

Latest LD4D meeting strengthens collaboration for improved livestock data

Active participation by livestock data community members helped make the recent meeting a success

What’s needed to ensure that those making decisions in the livestock sector have access to useful data? The Livestock Data for Decisions (LD4D) Community of Practice (CoP) addresses a spectrum of challenges, from ensuring basic data is collected and made available, to enabling farmers, practitioners, policy makers, and investors to effectively use data to improve livestock health and productivity. LD4D strengthened its efforts to drive better decision making through effective use of livestock data during its latest meeting which took place from 20-22 February in Naivasha, Kenya. Read more

LD4D takes on CGIAR’s Big Data in Agriculture Livestock Community of Practice

Karen Smyth represented LD4D at CGIAR’s Big Data in Agriculture Convention which took place in Cali, Colombia in September 2017. The Big Data in Agriculture Convention of 2017: An Alliance for a Data Revolution, aimed to align the international scientific community to ‘’inspire a data revolution and to celebrate the intersection of big data and agriculture’’. The event gathered together the international community of scientists, researchers, technologists, development experts, policy analysts, donors, advocates, change agents, last mile implementers, and many others to a convention at the intersection of big data and agriculture. Topics covered included how big data can transform smallholder agriculture, enabling farmers to boost food production and respond to pressing challenges such as climate change. Around 300 attended the 3 day event. For presentation and videos from the event please follow this link

Livestock Key Facts Update

At the June 2017 LD4D meeting, a Livestock Facts working group was established to identify and review lists of livestock key facts. The Livestock Facts working group identified that another project, Global Livestock Advocacy for Development (GLAD), was operating in this arena. GLAD is a BMGF project tasked to help counter unbalanced narratives and to increase understanding of livestock-in-development dialogues. Amongst other things, the GLAD project is distilling evidence around livestock ‘goods’ and ‘bads’ as well as developing a user-friendly toolkit giving access to livestock evidence, facts and key statistics as well as a learning module to help people better advocate livestock-for-development issues. Read more

LD4D meeting – plans moving ahead!

The SEBI team is busy working towards the next LD4D meeting. We are working on a draft programme which we will send to you shortly for your thoughts.
The next LD4D meeting will be held in Kenya the week beginning 19 February 2018. To keep costs down, we would like to start booking flights and secure your accommodation very soon. As before, we will fund 1 LD4D member from each institution. Antonia Robb, SEBI Administrator, will be in touch shortly to discuss your flight options.