ZOONOTIC DISEASES

Protect the environment to avoid more Covid-19s

In Summary

• A UN report predicts that more 'zoonotic' diseases will jump from animals to humans unless more is done to protect the environment

• Environmental degradation is pushing humans and animals into ever greater physical contact

Schoolchildren plant trees to help conserve Kaptagat Forest in Uasin Gishu.
CONSERVATION: Schoolchildren plant trees to help conserve Kaptagat Forest in Uasin Gishu.
Image: FILE

A UN report has warned that more zoonotic viruses like Covid-19 will cross into the human population unless more is done to protect the environment (see P11)

The report 'Preventing the Next Pandemic: Zoonotic Diseases and How to Break the Chain of Transmission' predicts more diseases will jump from animals to humans in future.

Human beings are being pushed into ever closer contact with wild and domestic animals by population growth, increased meat eating, and land being cleared for farming. Africa is at particular risk from zoonotic diseases such as Ebola and Rift Valley Fever.

 

The economic cost of Covid-19 to Kenya is incalculable. The economy has contracted substantially in the last three months of lockdown. It is far cheaper to invest in the environment than to do nothing and increase the risk of another deadly animal virus.

Last year the Environment ministry and the Kenya Forest Service embarked on an ambitious plan to plant two billion trees and protect gazetted forests and parks.

This effort should be embraced by all Kenyans. The alternative is not just worsening climate change but also a greater frequency of pandemics like Covid-19.

Quote of the day: "Everyone believes very easily whatever they fear or desire."

Jean de La Fontaine
The French author was born on July 8, 1621