C. Mantovani, E.V. Boresi, M. Dalla Pozza

Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie (ITALY)
The concept of animal health Strategy for the European Union (2007-2013) where "Prevention is better than cure" covers not only the absence of disease in animals, but also the critical relationship between the health of animals and their welfare. It is also a pillar for the EU Commission’s policy on public health and food safety. Partnership and communication to the public are the two key underlying principles of the AHS and in particular the spreading of the concept of " Animals + Humans = One health". In this framework EU Parliament aims at promoting the work of EU veterinarians and at explaining the importance of animal health within the context of the EU's AHS. The overall aim is to increase the public's interest in EU animal health and food safety matters. According to this strategy, the present work aims at applying the two principles of partnership and communication to the public, through the implementation of a public health education programme in secondary schools. Schools in fact can make a substantial contribution to a student’s health and well being. Moreover, students represents future citizens and there is a developing understanding on the interlinked relationships between school education and health and behaviour. A range of strategies and programmes have been implemented in the last 10 years, sharing the connecting thread that all aspects of life are potentially important in the promotion of health. Moreover school programmes, that are integrated with public health topics and in which practical scientific experiences are applied, are more likely to produce better education outcomes, health, public awareness and confidence and holistic culture than those which are mainly information-based and implemented only in classrooms. According to these considerations, Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie (IZSVe) aims at implementing an education programme in public health, structured by means of a “blended learning model”, addressed to secondary schools of the Veneto Region (north eastern of Italy). This geographical area is characterized by an important agricultural and livestock production. The occurrence of several animal and food-borne emergencies have, in the last decade, caused drastic economic losses due to the policy measures applied and a reduction in consumer confidence hence negatively influencing consumption of food of animal origin. The objectives of this public health education programme are: promote a scientific and public health culture; increase public perception and understanding of the scientific methods applied in public health and research institutions like IZSVe, via the implementation of practical experiments supported by contextualized and theoretical explanations targeted to the school audience; increase public awareness and knowledge on sanitary risks related to the animal-human relationship and to consumption of food of animal origin; highlight the important role played by veterinary public health institutions and veterinarians in society.