Animal Health and Welfare

Like human health, animal health is complex and is faced with ever-evolving challenges. Thanks to the advances in technology, medicine and science, innovative solutions can be used to address animal diseases threats, whether they affect terrestrial animals, aquatic animals or wildlife. Animal health is a key component of animal welfare.

Animal health professionals are the key actors in charge of optimising the physical and behavioural health and welfare of animals. They contribute to prevent, treat and control diseases which can affect an individual animal or even whole animal populations.

©World Organisation for Animal Health/H.Bader

Animal Diseases


Disease Data Collection


Animal Welfare


Official Disease Status


Wildlife Health


Aquatic Animals


Animal health and welfare, at the heart of global challenges

Because we interact with animals daily, both domestic and wild, their health and welfare are a major concern for us. Human health, food security, prosperity and respect for the environment are all inextricably linked to our worldwide governance of animals, a governance that the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) has been guiding for nearly 100 years taking a One Health approach.

Animal health and welfare is essential

Some key figures

Safeguarding global health in today’s world

Many established human infectious diseases originate in animals, and, in the case of vector-borne diseases, for example, climate change is having a considerable impact on their spread. In addition, almost all new infectious agents that emerge in humans have an animal source. 


of pathogens that cause human diseases originate from domestic animals or wildlife


of emerging human pathogens are of animal origin


of pathogens that are of bioterrorism concern come from animals

Preserving livelihoods and food security

Not all animal diseases pose a direct risk to humans, but they may still have significant socio-economic impacts. For some people, animal health is not only a health issue: their jobs and livelihoods depend on it. 

1 in 5

people depend on production animals for their income and livelihoods

> 70%

additional animal protein will be needed to feed the world by 2050

> 20%

of global animal production losses are linked to animal diseases

Building more sustainable animal farming

As society becomes increasingly aware of the challenges posed by climate change, now and in the future, it has high expectations for sustainable animal farming that respect both the environment and animal welfare. Animal welfare is also subject to more attention from consumers of animal products. The need to feed a growing number of people, and to feed them better, must be combined with the urgent requirement to protect our terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Read our vision paper: Animal health and welfare: cornerstones of sustainable animal farming.


of terrestrial environments have been severely affected by human actions


of aquatic environments have been severely affected by human actions


is how much original forest cover needs to be lost to increase the likelihood of humans and livestock encountering wildlife and exposing themselves to disease transmission

Our action

We have been at the forefront of preventing and controlling animal diseases since 1924.

We focus on monitoring and disseminating knowledge about animal diseases, as well as on how to use scientific data to limit animal diseases’ negative effects on society. 

At a time when numerous changes are disrupting our communities and ways of life, we continues to adapt our work to the evolving challenges of veterinary public health, to provide more effective support to Veterinary Services through these changes. 


We believe that animal health is essential to our future.

Animal health is our health. It’s everyone’s health.

Our Global Strategies on Animal Health and Welfare

As part of its mission, we bring together governments, industry and experts to develop global strategies on animal health and welfare. While some of these strategies focus on transversal thematics, others are specifically developed to guide countries in the prevention and control of priority animal diseases. 

Data on Animal Health

Reliable data support national authorities and the international community in making evidence-based decisions to improve animal health and, consequently, global health security. WOAH spearheads innovative projects to make data related to animal health accessible for everyone.


World Animal Health Information System (WAHIS)



Antimicrobial use in animals


©OIE/J.Vargas Herrera
©OIE/J.Vargas Herrera

Global Burden of Animal Diseases (GBADS)