The health of animals and humans are intrinsically linked. Addressing animal diseases can directly improve human health, particularly in the developing world. Livestock also indirectly contribute to health goals by supporting better livelihoods and therefore better dietary, educational and health choices.
Livestock and health - impact evidence on the ways investments in livestock systems can positively impact people, communities, and the environment:
The impacts of livestock systems on human health are felt in several ways. For example, animal-source foods are a prominent source of food-borne diseases. Animals can also transmit some dangerous zoonotic diseases, which are carried by both animals and people. We know that animal-source foods can have positive nutritional benefits, but we find those benefits can extend to a wide set of health outcomes. Because livestock represent household assets, and can be translated into financial assets, we even find that the assurance provided through those factors can have positive benefits for mental health.
Here we present evidence on the positive impacts of a range of livestock-related interventions on health. These include:
- Keeping livestock can produce physical and mental health benefits.
- Where animal-source foods can potentially cause disease risks through food-borne diseases, targeted training can reduce those risks, even among informal animal-source food markets which do not use modern processing and handling technologies.
- The benefits resulting from investment in zoonotic disease control often outweigh the costs, even when just the animal productivity gains are calculated, but particularly when human health gains are also added to the equation.