Eastern Europe and the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics: animal health systems in transition
Rev Sci Tech Off Int Epizoot
The economic transition in Eastern Europe and the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) during the last decade has profoundly changed the agricultural sector and the well-being of people in rural areas. Farm ownership changed; selected farm assets, including livestock, were transferred to farm workers or others, and the social and service structures of rural society are in a state of uncertainty. The transition has, in general, led to the deterioration of rural services. Animal
... rvices. Animal health services have also deteriorated. This decline is associated with the contraction of the livestock inventory, the fragmentation of farms, higher transaction costs for service providers, and the overall decline of the rural economy which has, so far, lowered the demand for animal health services. There are considerable differences in the way that these countries are coping with the economic transition and its aftermath. Among the determining factors in the former USSR are, as follows: the speed of recovery from the legacies of large State-controlled farming and a centrally planned animal health system, the efforts made to address poverty reduction, the choice on whether to become a Member of the World Trade Organization and the requirements of such membership, the ability to provide low-cost services to a fragmented and unskilled livestock production sector. In Eastern Europe, the requirements for joining the European Union (EU) are an additional and important determining factor. In the short term, the choice of a veterinary system to serve the livestock sector may differ from country to country, depending on the legacies of the past, the status of reforms and the proximity of Western markets. Lower-income countries with an oversupply of veterinarians may support labour-intensive, low-cost systems which focus on food security and public health. The better-endowed EU accession countries may focus rather on improved disease surveillance, production enhancement, quality assurance and increased food safety. Such choices may also determine the investment made by these countries in upgrading their State system, laboratories and veterinary education facilities.