Community animal health services for improving household wealth and health status of low-income farmers

Livestock are central to the household economy for some communities in low-income and middle-income countries. The availability of basic veterinary services could contribute to the wealth and health of households by preventing animal illness or death. In most low-income countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, the state provided free veterinary services during the years in which countries were colonized, and for some time after their independence. However, since the 1960s privately (or self) employed veterinarians are slowly replacing government veterinary services. Privatized veterinary services, modelled on European or North American systems, have had mixed success in that they seem to have worked well in urban areas, but not in remote arid and semi-arid areas of the world, where livestock herding is very extensive and people do not have money to pay for the services. While the provision of community animal health services seems common sense, very no well-designed randomized controlled trials nor any controlled before-and-after studies have evaluated its impact. Such studies are needed to substantiate the positive results reported it several observational studies.

Authors' conclusions: 

Well-designed randomized controlled trials or controlled before-and-after studies that use standard pragmatic outcomes are needed to evaluate the positive results reported by observational studies.

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Background: 

Community animal health services in low-income countries aim to improve the health of animals and directly improve the wealth and health or livelihood of their owners. These services have been promoted by aid organizations since the 1970s.

Objectives: 

To summarize reliable research of community animal health services on indicators for household wealth and health.

Search strategy: 

We searched the Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group Specialized Register (January 2011), CENTRAL (The Cochrane Library 2010, Issue 4), MEDLINE (1966 to January 2011), AGRIS (1975 to January 2011), Science Citation Index (2000 to January 2011), STN SIGLE database (1976 to 2011), and AGRICOLA (January 2011). We contacted relevant researchers and organizations, and also checked the reference lists of articles.

Selection criteria: 

Randomized controlled trials and controlled before-and-after studies comparing community animal health services with no community animal health services or with an alternative animal health service.

Data collection and analysis: 

We independently assessed studies for inclusion in the review.

Main results: 

No studies met the inclusion criteria.

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