Healthy Animals, Healthy Canada

Animal health has a direct impact on the health of Canadians, the economy and the environment. The majority of emerging diseases in humans have their origin in the animal kingdom.1 Economic losses related to animal health events include reduced trade flows, lost incomes for farm families and fewer jobs in agricultural industries. Environmental consequences include the disruption of domestic ecological systems.

Applying the proper risk assessment techniques, based on scientific knowledge and international best practices, can help to mitigate these and other negative impacts of animal health events.

In 2009, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, on behalf of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), asked the Council of Canadian Academies to assemble an Expert Panel to assess the state and comprehensiveness of risk assessment techniques in animal health science, specifically pertaining to risks which may impact human health. 

 Darrell Donahue and David C. Hall, members of the Expert Panel on Approaches to Animal Health Risk Assessment, present at the annual meeting of the Society for Risk Analysis in Charleston, South Carolina in December 2011.

After examining the evidence, the Expert Panel determined that animal health risk assessment in Canada is built on a solid foundation of knowledge and expertise; however, risk assessment practices can be enhanced.

The Panel also found that in order for Canada to stay at the forefront of animal health risk assessment there are numerous activities that can be improved such as: strengthening expertise and knowledge capacity; considering a broader range of consequences related to an animal health event; improving communication among risk assessors, managers and stakeholders; enhancing the transparency of the decision-making process; and setting aside resources for foresight assessments.

Formally released on September 22, 2011, at the University of Calgary’s Spy Hill Campus, the Chair of the Expert Panel, Dr. Alastair Cribb, Professor and Dean, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary, along with three other members of the expert panel, presented the report’s findings to a diverse audience of stakeholders.

To inquire about hard copies of the report, contact Tracey McKinlay, Project Office Coordinator at tracey.mckinlay@scienceadvice.ca.

Assessment Question

What is the state and comprehensiveness of risk assessment techniques in animal health science, specifically pertaining to risks that may impact on human health?

 

Report and supplementary materials

Expert Panel membership

The Expert Panel on Approaches to Animal Health Risk Assessment first convened in July 2009 and is chaired by Dr. Alastair Cribb, FCAHS, Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Calgary. For a complete list of panel members visit the Expert Panel on Approaches to Animal Health Risk Assessment Membership page.

Images

Dr. Alastair Cribb, Chair of the Expert Panel
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Cow at Canadian farm
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For further information, please contact:

Cate Meechan, Director of Communications, at 613-567-5000 ext. 228 or cathleen.meechan@scienceadvice.ca.

 


 

1 L.H. Taylor, S.M. Latham, and M.E. Woolhouse, “Risk Factors for Human Disease Emergence,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences (2001), p. 983, available: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1088493/pdf/TB010983.pdf.

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