A new group of international experts to address the emergence and spread of zoonotic diseases – world
May 20, 2021, Geneva / Paris / Rome – International organizations have come together to launch a new high-level group of One Health experts to better understand how diseases that can trigger pandemics emerge and spread.
The group will provide advice to four international organizations – the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) – on developing a long-term global action plan to prevent outbreaks of diseases like avian influenza H5N1; MERS; Ebola; Zika and, possibly, COVID-19.
Three quarters of all emerging infectious diseases are of animal origin.
It will operate under the One Health approach, which recognizes the links between human, animal and environmental health and emphasizes the need for specialists in multiple sectors to deal with any challenges. threat to health and prevent disruption of agrifood systems.
The first key steps will include systematic reviews of scientific knowledge on the factors that lead to the transmission of a disease from animals to humans and vice versa; development of risk assessment and monitoring frameworks; identification of capacity gaps and agreement on good practices to prevent and prepare for zoonotic outbreaks.
The panel will examine the impact of human activity on the environment and wildlife habitats. Critical areas will include food production and distribution; urbanization and infrastructure development; international travel and trade; activities that lead to biodiversity loss and climate change; and those that put increased pressure on the natural resource base – all of which can lead to the emergence of zoonotic diseases.
The group will guide the development of a dynamic new research agenda and develop evidence-based recommendations for global, regional, national and local action.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, said: “Human health does not exist in a vacuum, and neither do our efforts to protect and promote it. The close links between human, animal and environmental health require close collaboration, communication and coordination. between the sectors concerned. The High Level Panel of Experts is an indispensable initiative to transform One Health from concept to concrete policies that preserve the health of the world’s population. ”
Dr QU Dongyu, Director-General of FAO, told the group at its first meeting: “This group will help advance the One Health agenda, helping to better understand the root causes of the emergence and spread. disease, and educating long-term public health decision-makers. I encourage him to be a shining example of breaking silos, systems thinking and open dialogue. Expectations for collective action and the need for effective collaboration have never been higher. ”
Dr Monique Éloit, Director General of the World Organization for Animal Health, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder that intersectoral collaboration is absolutely essential for global health. The newly created One Health High Level Expert Group will help bring together diverse scientific expertise. United, we will better anticipate threats to global health and work to control risks at the animal source. Our organization prides itself on providing high level expertise, along with our partners, to develop “One Health” science strategies and programs. ”
Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP, said: “ To end the triple global crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution that threatens our peace and prosperity, we must understand that human health, animal and planetary go hand in hand. We must do more to promote transformative actions that target the root causes of the destruction of nature. The One Health High Level Expert Group is an important step in recognizing the complex and multidisciplinary issues at the interface of human, animal and environmental health. ”
The Foreign Ministers of France and Germany also joined the public launch of the One Health High Level Expert Group:
Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, France, declared: “The COVID-19 pandemic, whose zoonotic origin is strongly suspected, underlines the extent to which human, animal and environmental health are closely related. One Health Approach. It is in this context that France, together with Germany, proposed the creation of such a Panel during the meeting of the Alliance for Multilateralism organized on the occasion of the Paris Peace Forum on 12 November 2020. ”
Mr. Heiko Maas, Foreign Minister of Germany, said: “COVID-19 has painfully reminded us that the health of humans, animals and the environment around the world is closely linked: no one is safe as long as everyone is not safe. This is what we must keep in mind to avoid future pandemics. The creation of the high-level expert group “One Health” is therefore important. an important step in the right direction. Germany and France will continue to support the work of the group. ”