Risk Management in Animal Health
Over the past year, the Food Safety Network has partnered with Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Veterinary Services to develop an online learning module covering topics related to animal health and emergency preparedness and response. To commemorate this work, the Food Safety Network is releasing a series of blogs focused on select topics discussed within this online learning module. This blog is the fourth in a six-part series and focuses on the topic of Ensuring Risk Management in Animal Health.
Import risk analysis doesn’t end with a risk assessment report: risk assessment results guide the risk management to an importing country’s acceptable risk for the importation of a hazard through animal commodities from the exporting country. Risk management is an important component of import risk analysis for many reasons — and it helps ensure compliance with World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) guidelines for risk analysis. It also supports key provisions of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) Agreement, including harmonization, equivalence and transparency.
Risk management is “the process of deciding upon and implementing measures to address the risks identified in the risk assessment,” the OIE says, “whilst at the same time ensuring that negative effects on trade are minimized.” Risk assessors and the risk managers in the importing country are central to this effort and according to the SPS Agreement, each country has a right to establish its own appropriate level of protection (ALOP). The risk level is different for every country, but cannot be zero.
The risk assessment concludes with an overall risk estimation, or likelihood, for importation of the hazard through animal commodities from the exporting country. When the risk estimation does not meet a country’s ALOP, risk management options — or the application of appropriate sanitary measures — may be justified to achieve the ALOP. However, sanitary measures should not be arbitrarily implemented; they must be grounded in the risk assessment justification. Moreover, measures should only be applied to the extent necessary to reach the importing country’s ALOP and not discriminate among trading partners. Finally, measures need to be reasonably feasible (not technically or economically burdensome).
In other words, the importing country needs to balance import risk(s) and protect its own animal health while applying the least restrictive trade requirements. Such an approach helps to ensure the country fulfills its OIE and SPS Agreement commitments.
Risk management process core components include:
- Risk evaluation comparing the risk estimation from the risk assessment to the importing country’s ALOP.
- Option evaluation centering on identifying, evaluating and selecting effective sanitary measures to bring the level of risk into alignment with the importing country’s acceptable level of protection.
- Implementation operationalizing the selected sanitary measure to ensure import requirements can be met.
- Monitoring and review involving the periodical audits or inspections to ensure the import requirements are achieving the intended purpose.
A scientific peer review by experts with specialized knowledge in risk analysis may sometimes be appropriate prior to implementation. This ensures that the risk assessment is technically sound, that sanitary measures are appropriately applied and that measures are consistent with international standards and agreements. In addition, if the sanitary measures diverge from the OIE Terrestrial Codes or if an international standard, guideline or recommendation does not exist, the importing country must notify the WTO. Notification allows WTO members the opportunity to comment on, and suggest amendments to, proposed requirements.
The goal of the monitoring and review components of risk management is to ensure sanitary measures to mitigate risk are achieved. It’s an ongoing, routine process, especially as global animal health is ever changing, and various circumstances could necessitate more urgent monitoring and review of the inputs to the import risk analysis. Lastly, new scientific information, technology or information from the completion of other risk analyses related to the disease or commodity may trigger a need to revisit the risk assessment and the risk management options.
Want to learn more about the concept of animal health? Check out our free, self-paced, online Animal Health Learning Module which explores the evolution of the United States surveillance process, the value of a modern surveillance system and emergency response process, international trade and animal health, import risk analysis, risk management and risk communication, emergency preparedness and response, and concludes with a case study that allows learners to walk through a fictional country’s response to an African Swine Fever outbreak. Visit http://www.spscourses.com today to sign up for a free account and access this module and so much more!