The Agriculture, Food, Nutrition, Health Nexus

13-14 August 2018, Canberra

Dr Anna Okello

Anna is the Associate Research Programme Manager of Livestock Systems at ACIAR, providing Animal Health and One Health expertise to the portfolio. Since graduating with a veterinary degree from Melbourne University in 2002, the majority of Anna’s career has been spent working in the veterinary public health and livestock development sectors, including 10 years researching zoonotic Neglected Tropical Disease control in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. Anna completed a PhD in political science (public health policy) at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for African Studies in 2012, and has worked in various project management and technical advisory roles for international NGOs, the Australian government, the World Health Organization and the University of Edinburgh. Anna holds an adjunct teaching position at the University of Edinburgh’s Global Health Academy, and is ACIAR’s part time secondee to the Australian Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security as an Advisor for One Health.

Recognizing the role of the livestock sector in human health and nutrition


Global livestock narratives have hit an interesting – and increasingly conflicting – point in recent history, with the often-lauded ‘Livestock Revolution’ accompanied by an increasing ‘anti-livestock rhetoric’ , driven largely by environmental concerns and calls to decrease – and in some cases halt – global production and consumption of animal source foods altogether. However whilst the world’s wealthier countries have ready access to a broad and diverse range of healthy plant-based diet alternatives, animal-source foods remain integral to the health and economies of an estimated 70% of the world’s rural poor. Moreover, existing opportunities for smallholder and pastoralist livestock keepers to contribute to improved human health and nutrition are often overlooked by ‘blanket’ narratives that fail to appreciate the distinct differences between commercial and smallholder/pastoralist livestock systems. Smallholder livestock producers have an opportunity to directly contribute to improved human health and nutrition through improving the quality, sufficiency and safety of animal source foods. There are also indirect benefits to livestock keeping; for example increased livestock-derived income can facilitate better and more diverse food choices, and promote health-seeking behaviour and illness prevention measures. Good governance of smallholder livestock sectors that promotes the social, economic and nutritional benefits of livestock keeping, whilst minimising environmental, welfare and public health impacts of livestock intensification, is an important balancing act; but one that has never been more important as the world’s population continues to grow.