Disasters of all types, including natural ones, may cause severe loss of human and animal life, have direct and indirect adverse impacts on public health and badly affect the sustainability of important agri-food sectors. Veterinary Services should play a leadership role in advising the various authorities on animal health and welfare and veterinary public health in disaster situations and should provide sufficient and appropriate support to ensure that animal health policies bring all the disparate components of disaster management together in a cohesive response, using a multidisciplinary approach.
To better address the continuing challenges posed by a growing number of large- and small-scale disasters, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Collaborating Centre Network on Veterinary Emergencies (EmVetNet) was established in 2018, comprising the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell’Abruzzo e del Molise ‘G.Caporale’ (IZSAM) in Italy, focused on veterinary training, epidemiology, food safety, and animal welfare; the Centro Nacional de Sanidad Agropecuaria (CENSA) in Cuba, focused on the reduction of the risk of disasters in animal health; and the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases (IIAD) at Texas A&M University in the United States, focused on biological threat reduction.
Together, the EmVetNet members have decades of experience managing biological threats, responding to natural and human-made disasters and assisting OIE Members to promote a culture of prevention and preparedness among their Veterinary Services and relevant stakeholders. EmVetNet’s mandate is to ensure that the health and welfare of livestock, wildlife and companion animals are protected during emergencies and to provide veterinary public health assistance .
The worldwide EmVetNet network aims to:
- provide technical advice and support for training, exercises and evaluation throughout the emergency management cycle for all hazards, and to facilitate multidisciplinary approaches to emergency management
- share knowledge on best practice (including models and case studies, e.g. model legislation, contingency/emergency plans, communication)
- make recommendations on research needs to support veterinary emergency management
- identify and coordinate with stakeholders (OIE Members, non-governmental organisations, public health authorities, the private sector), and seek to extend and diversify the network
- support operational activities, e.g. those of the OIE, Tripartite (WHO, OIE, FAO), Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) and Emergency Management Centre for Animal Health (EMC−AH).