STRENGTHEN HEALTH SYSTEMS

Unep moves to stop another pandemic

Recent infectious diseases including Covid-19, Ebola, and HIV were caused by pathogens that originated from animals

In Summary
  • The effort is to prevent another pandemic in the world.
  • The work of the newly expanded alliance will be focused on a One Health Joint Plan of Action, which includes six main action tracks.
Covid-19 is caused by a virus that jumped from animals into people.
COVID TEST: Covid-19 is caused by a virus that jumped from animals into people.
Image: FILE

Nairobi-based Unep has joined an ongoing initiative to stop more diseases jumping from animals to humans.

The effort is to prevent another pandemic in the world.

Many recent infectious diseases including Covid-19, Ebola, SARS, MERS, HIV, and Rift Valley fever, were caused by pathogens that originated from animals and jumped into people.

The current initiative, known as the Quadripartite partnership for One Health, brings together the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World Health Organisation, the World Organisation for Animal Health, and now the UN Environment Programme.

Unep boss Inger Andersen said, “What is apparent to everyone involved in One Health is that no one sector can solve the many problems we face alone. To secure human, animal and environment health — to secure the very future of this planet—we need more collaboration and partnerships.”

The WHO says approximately 70 per cent of all emerging and re-emerging pathogens are zoonotic, jumping from animals to humans.

WHO says part of the reasons this happens is human activities that disrupt ecosystems, encroach on habitats, and further drive climate change.

These activities include pollution, large-scale deforestation, intensified livestock production and the misuse of antibiotics, along with how the world produces, consumes and trades food. 

As set out in the WHO manifesto for a healthy and green recovery from Covid-19, the UN health agency supports a greater One Health emphasis on connections to the environment. 

“We are stronger with Unep joining the Tripartite (now Quadripartite)," FAO director general QU Dongyu said.

The Memorandum of Understanding notes that Unep “sets the environmental agenda and promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the UN system, and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.”

The work of the newly expanded alliance will be focused on a One Health Joint Plan of Action, which includes six main action tracks.

These are, enhancing countries’ capacity to strengthen health systems under a One Health approach; and reducing the risks from emerging or resurfacing zoonotic epidemics and pandemics.

Other actions will include controlling and eliminating endemic zoonotic, neglected tropical or vector-borne diseases; strengthening the assessment, management and communication of food safety risks; curbing the silent pandemic of antimicrobial resistance and better integrating the environment into the One Health approach.

WHO director general Tedros Adhanom said, "We need a strong workforce, committed political will, and sustained financial investment. We need to develop a more proactive way of communicating and engaging across sectors, disciplines and communities to elicit the change we need.”

Monique Eloit, OIE Director General acknowledged the key milestone of the MoU with Unep, saying, “Its mandate, expertise and networks will provide an important contribution to advance One Health. This new chapter in our partnership will make us stronger and more prepared to serve our members and address global health challenges”.

 

 

-Edited by SKanyara

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