Status Report on Education in the Economics of Animal Health: Results from a European Survey
Education on the use of economics applied to animal health (EAH) has been offered since the 1980s. However, it has never been institutionalized within veterinary curricula and there is no systematic information on current teaching and education activities in Europe. Nevertheless the need for economic skills in animal health has never been greater. Economics can add value to disease impact assessments; improve understanding of people's incentives to participate in animal health measures; and help refine resource allocation for public animal health budgets. The use of economics should improve animal health decision making. An online questionnaire was conducted in European countries to assess current and future needs and expectations of people using EAH. The main conclusion from the survey is that education in economics appears to be offered inconsistently in Europe, and information about the availability of training opportunities in this field is scarce. There is a lack of harmonization of EAH education and significant gaps exist in the veterinary curricula of many countries. Depending on whether respondents belonged to educational institutions, public bodies, or private organizations, they expressed concerns regarding the limited education on decision making and impact assessment for animal diseases or on the use of economics for general management. Both public and private organizations recognized the increasing importance of EAH in the future. This should motivate the development of teaching methods and materials that aim at developing the understanding of animal health problems for the benefit of students and professional veterinarians.