The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) facilitated a dynamic, multisectoral and interdisciplinary expert discussion in November 2019, at OIE Headquarters in Paris, to share and explore approaches and models that could improve the sustainability of emergency management, particularly in lower-resource settings.
The experts agreed that there is no ‘one size fits all’ for emergency management, and sustainability is a challenge to achieve in both low- and high-resource settings. However, innovative approaches could offer partial solutions.
Innovative models to support resilience include inter-country agreements to share human resources for an emergency response; public−private partnerships, e.g. shared responsibility between the government and livestock sector; novel assessment and prediction models (using climate data and ‘big data’); mechanisms to mobilise financial resources (including contingency funds); response networks (including research); insurance policies; and mechanisms to fast track the development and sourcing of vaccines.
The participants agreed that having a contingency plan does not necessarily equate to being prepared. A plan must be ‘fit for purpose’: it must be based on local risks and accompanied by adequate resources (including trained personnel, equipment, and finances). Preparedness must be regularly tested through well-designed and executed simulation exercises.
Networking between OIE Members supports resilience. Countries can learn from one another (in the context of planning or participating in multi-country exercises), and share personnel to support an emergency response or expertise in the field of research and development.
One example of important multisectoral collaboration is between law enforcement and Veterinary Services to prevent and respond to agro-crime and agro-terrorism. The costs of investing in multisectoral preparedness against these threats can be far outweighed by the potential socio-economic, health and political benefits. Preparedness against such threats should be integrated into animal health emergency management planning and include raising awareness with stakeholders, establishing roles and responsibilities, joint training and exercises, and seeking the input of stakeholders and other agencies when developing contingency plans.
A multisectoral approach to emergencies is essential when dealing with any animal health and welfare emergency.