Animal Health Economics. What Can It Do? What Are the Big Questions?
It is argued that while considerable development of animal health economics has occurred in recent decades, it has not yet achieved its potential coverage. It has been mostly applied to livestock, particularly livestock used for commerce, and its application to a range of other animals has been relatively neglected. Extending its coverage also requires widening the type of objectives taken into account in the analysis. Furthermore, the main focus of animal health economics has been on the economics of controlling and managing the occurrence of diseases. The economic role of genetics, the environment, nutrition and the comfort of animals in their health ought to be given greater attention. In the case of zoonoses, the economic analysis should be extended to take into account human health. Those studying animal health economics need to make decisions in their analysis about its spatial dimensions, its time dimensions, and the stakeholders to be considered. They must also take into account health chains and make allowances for risk and uncertainty. The economics of knowledge (including, for example, information economics and research and development) is worthy of more attention in animal health economics. Many important questions arise in animal health economics but two big ones might be: (1) what role should governments play in managing animal health and how should their involvement be financed; and (2) what precautions for maintaining animal health are economic? In conclusion, some reasons are suggested for animal health economics being unable to achieve its potential coverage.
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