Veterinary Surveillance Strategy Launched By Defra

UK - Defra, the devolved administrations and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Northern Ireland today launched the UK's Veterinary Surveillance Strategy (VSS) that will enable faster, better targeted disease prevention and control measures.
calendar icon 22 October 2003
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The core objectives of the 10-year strategy will be to deliver earlier warning and more rapid detection of disease threats, provide open and transparent prioritisation of surveillance activities, to give a clear, well defined evidence base for all surveillance activities and reports, and to make better use of the data collected.

The launch follows extensive consultation across Government and with the veterinary, farming and wildlife sectors. It also forms an integral part of the developing Animal Health and Welfare Strategy.

Launching the Strategy in London, Chief Veterinary Officer Jim Scudamore said: "Our shared vision is of a future where the risk of significant damage to human health, animal health and the rural economy is mitigated by the provision of faster and better informed disease control measures."

"We want to have a future where we are identifying emerging risks faster and assess their potential impact more accurately; because our surveillance activity is full justified, open, transparent, effectively prioritised and founded on surveillance data of known quality."

One of the key elements of the Strategy will be the development of an innovative Information Technology system. RADAR (Rapid Analysis and Detection of Animal-related Risk) will draw together existing sources of data to enable the Government to identify, analyse and track animal disease related threats rapidly.

The interactive system will also provide a channel for surveillance data which can be accessed by vets and farmers. In time, it will be able to provide information on the numbers of fallen stock consigned for destruction, obtain diagnostic data from veterinary laboratories, gain information on carcass failures and throughputs at abattoirs and receive details from private vets and livestock producers.

This Strategy also aims to deliver:

  • An improved, productive and comprehensive network of surveillance partners, which will help enhance communications to the industry
  • An improved chance of earlier intervention in a disease incident leading to a reduced impact on human and animal populations and rural economies
  • An improved chance of detecting links between human and animal disease, and the ability to use animal health data as an indicator of potential human health problems
  • A more accurate measure of the distribution and level of disease to enable better targeting of resources for surveillance and control
  • A new system of profiling diseases to ensure surveillance activity is prioritised effectively and in accordance with agreed criteria
  • Provide better value from surveillance data by delivering improvements in data quality and data sharing.

Further Notes

  1. The publication of the Strategy follows a detailed consultation paper, Partnership, Priorities and Professionalism: A Proposed Strategy for Enhancing Veterinary Surveillance in the UK that was unveiled on December 10, 2002 (PN 508/02).

  2. During the consultation period Defra has been meeting stakeholder groups to consider and develop strategic goals. In addition, a series of workshops took place in September 2003.

  3. Copies of the Strategy can be obtained from Area 601, 1A Page Street, London, SW1P 4PQ, tel: 020 7904 8333. The Strategy can also be found on the Defra website at

Source: Defra - 22nd October 2003
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