From risk analysis to risk governance - Adapting to an ever more complex future
Risk analysis is now widely accepted amongst veterinary authorities and other stakeholders around the world as a conceptual framework for integrating scientific evidence into animal health decision making. The resulting risk management for most diseases primarily involves linking epidemiological understanding with diagnostics and/or vaccines. Recent disease outbreaks such as Nipah virus, SARS, avian influenza H5N1, bluetongue serotype 8 and Schmallenberg virus have led to realising that we need
... to explicitly take into account the underlying complex interactions between environmental, epidemiological and social factors which are often also spatially and temporally heterogeneous as well as interconnected across affected regions and beyond. A particular challenge is to obtain adequate understanding of the influence of human behaviour and to translate this into effective mechanisms leading to appropriate behaviour change where necessary. Both, the One Health and the ecohealth approaches reflect the need for such a holistic systems perspective, however the current implementation of risk analysis frameworks for animal health and food safety is still dominated by a natural or biomedical perspective of science as is the implementation of control and prevention policies. This article proposes to integrate the risk analysis approach with a risk governance framework which explicitly adds the socio-economic context to policy development and emphasizes the need for organisational change and stakeholder engagement.