Beyond nutrition, investing in livestock can also deliver on health
This blog by The World Bank describes how the livestock sector could contribute to nutrition and public health, while also describing the risks on the human-animal interface. Animal-sourced foods are important sources of nutrition and health, providing a broad spectrum of nutrients, energy and protein. The author states that as we increase livestock production and productivity, we need to make sure this translates into improved nutritional status. This is not always straightforward. For example, in Ethiopia, which has the largest livestock population in Africa, nutrition paradoxically remains a challenge for many households. Ensuring efficient and functional food markets is key to overcome this challenge, by increasing the welfare levels of producers and consumers simultaneously. Improvements in livestock production, including food markets, are among several underlying factors that could contribute to higher socio-economic status. This should promote a more diverse diet. Additionally, interventions to ensure that improved diets benefit target groups are also important. However, the connection between livestock and public health goes beyond nutrition. It is estimated that two thirds of infectious diseases in humans have their origin in animals. Therefore, maintaining animal health and welfare is a major factor in reducing the burden of infectious diseases in human populations, preventing outbreaks and controlling epidemics. The author concludes that today more than ever, we need to seize the opportunity to use livestock as a vehicle to deliver on health and nutrition.