person knelt down petting a dog
23 February 2021

Three Reasons Why Innovations Matter for Animal Health in Europe


Posted by Dirk Ehle

Healthy animals are the key to unlocking a healthier, more sustainable future for people all across Europe, and the world, said Dirk Ehle, Executive Vice President & President of Elanco Europe, at the 2021 Animal Health Innovation Europe. Read more on how innovative animal health treatments and solutions will contribute to tackling key challenges of our time.

The health and well-being of animals have never mattered more. With the novel COVID-19 spreading rapidly across the globe, we were reminded that the health of animals and people is closely interlinked.

At Elanco, we provide innovative products and solutions to further improve the quality of care for all animals, from cats to cows. And while COVID-19 related hygiene measures and travel restrictions have not allowed me to personally meet with vets or farmers since I took over Elanco’s Europe operations, I am proud that we were able to remotely serve our customers all throughout the pandemic.

Still, the coronavirus has changed my life, all our lives! It’s been about one year since I last traveled to a conference or even had a larger meeting with colleagues at the offices. As the threat of COVID-19 forced people across the globe to endure lockdowns and self-isolation, we have been seeing a rise in loneliness, depression and social unrest.

Better pet health fosters better human health

I am certain that pets can make a difference. For example, our family dog Stella has helped me, my wife and my kids deal with the sudden changes in our lives. With schools staying close, they spent more time playing with the dog and usually found reasons to laugh despite the difficult times. People with pets have repeatedly reported feeling less lonely, and demonstrate better mental and physical health1.

As a result, the pandemic sparked a rise in pet ownership in many European countries. Yet, one in three pets does currently not receive regular veterinary care. That’s why we need new ways to access pet health solutions, such as telehealth or direct-to-doorstep delivery solutions, and novel therapeutics that maintain and improve the lives of pets.

Preventing and treating farm animal diseases advances food security

Further, the ongoing public health crisis has made apparent the importance of maintaining a healthy, balanced diet. Across Europe, the pandemic has impacted the way we cook and eat. Fresh produce like meat, milk, eggs, and fish play a key role as many people turn to more healthy and active lifestyles.

Europeans have started being even more mindful of what they consume so that the availability of healthy, safe and affordable food will matter more in the post-pandemic era. Hence, finding new approaches to increasing the productivity of livestock farming is paramount as we work towards achieving a more sustainable food system.

Protecting animal health means protecting our planet

Finally, healthier farm animals are not only the key to reducing hunger, they are also contributing to reducing emissions. Diseases and pests can cause animals to grow slower and produce less. Today, the World Organisation for Animal Health estimates that about 20% of farm animals are lost to animal diseases2. According to recent research, these animal health issues can increase greenhouse gas emissions from livestock farm operations by as much as 50%.

We believe that innovation in animal health is essential to provide farmers and vets with the necessary tools to prevent, or respond to, disease outbreaks. At Elanco, we are committed to partnering with our customers to ensure they have access to the right products and solutions that ensure increased animal well-being and productivity, thereby decreasing farms’ environmental impacts. At the same time, we also look at reducing our own environmental footprint, for example by sourcing energy from renewable sources and accelerating towards sustainable packaging options.

Together with our more than 3,000 Elanco colleagues in the field, at manufacturing and R&D sites and office locations all over Europe, I am excited to continue to make life better for animals. After all, that’s what makes all our lives better!

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