The first-ever global list of essential veterinary medicines for working equines and livestock is being created under the auspices of the World Veterinary Association (WVA) and international charity Brooke.
The list will contain basic medicines and vaccinations, selected for their relevance, efficacy and cost-effectiveness that should be available in every country to every veterinarian. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that about two billion people have no access to essential medicines and it is believed the issue is even worse within animal populations. It is the WVA and Brooke’s aim that no vet should be equipped with the knowledge and skills, but not the medicines in order to relieve pain and suffering.
The list of essential medicines aims to give food production animals such as cattle, pig and poultry, and working animals, such as horses and donkeys, access to better, timelier and more standardised treatment, and helping to prevent future pandemics of zoonotic diseases such as Covid-19.
WHO created the first list of essential human medicines in 1977, and the list is updated every two years to reflect the latest knowledge and developments in the industry. Human health is closely intertwined with the health of animals. Animal products form a crucial part of billions of people’s diets and livelihoods and veterinarians are responsible for ensuring those products are safe. In low and middle-income countries, in particular, people live and work in such close proximity to animals that pathogens can easily travel from species to species, as illustrated by pandemics of zoonotic diseases such as Covid-19, avian influenza, or Sars. Up to 75% of emerging diseases and up to 60% of infectious human diseases are of animal origin. Therefore, preventing disease in animals through vaccination and quality health care is essential for human health.
Brooke Global Animal Health Advisor Dr Shereene Williams said the charity worked with more than 4000 veterinarians and veterinary para professionals across Africa, Asia and Latin America, many of whom do not have access to essential medicines.
“In Ethiopia alone, we found that 100% of practitioners did not have access to pain-relieving medicines for animals, and 40% lacked basic supplies such as syringes and needles. This situation makes it impossible for vets to fulfil their professional oath to protect and save animals from pain and disease, it also puts human health at risk.”
The project, which builds on the success of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association’s (WSAVA) list of essential medicines for dogs and cats, will involve consulting with a wide variety of stakeholders across animal health systems to understand the current gaps and needs of animal health practitioners in the field.
WVA Preisdent Dr Patricia Turner said the project was “long overdue”, but it would ultimately give regulatory authorities and governments around the world guidance as to which medicines and therapeutics all veterinary professionals should have in their kit to fulfill their day-to-day responsibilities.
“As a result, animals and people alike will enjoy better health and wellbeing, ultimately, improving community prosperity.”