Animal Health Committee (AHC)

What is the Animal Health Committee (AHC)?

The Animal Health Committee (formerly VetCom) is a committee that sits under the National Biosecurity Committee (NBC).  It reports to the Primary Industries Standing Committee (PISC).

Membership

The committee comprises of the Chief Veterinary Officers (CVOs) of the Commonwealth, states and territories, and New Zealand, along with representatives from the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (CSIRO), Animal Health Australia and the Australian Government Department of Agriculture.

What does the AHC do?

The main purpose of AHC is to develop science-based and nationally consistent policy on animal health issues, and to provide advice as necessary on animal health to NBC and PISC. In doing so, AHC provides leadership in developing and implementing policy, programs, operational strategies and standards for government in the areas of animal health, domestic quarantine, animal welfare and veterinary public health.

The committee meets face-to-face twice a year, and the meetings are held in a different state each time. The position of the chair of the committee is rotated annually between the CVOs. AHC members also meet regularly by teleconference to discuss issues of national importance. A considerable amount of business is considered out of session where committee discussion of the issue is not necessary.

AHC publishes a newsletter, Vetcommunique, that provides information on current topics that they have considered in their face to face meetings.

Why is it important?

Australia enjoys a high level of food quality and an enviable reputation amongst our agricultural trading partners for disease freedom. Surveillance monitoring and reporting systems focus on the fact that Australia can be called upon to substantiate our claims of freedom from major diseases, including foot and mouth disease (FMD) and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). As part of such assurances, we must be able to demonstrate that an adequate level of service exists to detect, diagnose and control animal diseases.