The need to invest in animal health systems is clear.
More than 75% of all new human infectious diseases come from animals. COVID-19 demonstrates the tragedy and cost of failures in animal health systems that enable zoonoses.
To achieve health and well-being for all, SDG 3, animal health systems must be made stronger.
We call on governments and international agencies to prioritise strong animal health systems through five pillars for action:
Support community engagement and equitable access to animal health services
1.3 billion people depend on healthy animals for their livelihoods. Yet they often lack access to basic animal health services. Solutions provided by animal-owning communities can improve policy and service delivery, but these voices are often missed. We call for a commitment to and expansion of inclusive, multi-stakeholder, multi-sectoral cooperation that includes the grassroots level.
Increase the numbers and improve the skills of the animal health workforce
The health and welfare of animals and people relies on skilled and accessible animal health workers. However, there are not enough qualified vets and veterinary paraprofessionals, which leads to high levels of animal disease and death. The international community must boost political will to educate, deploy, manage and reward animal health professionals.
Close the veterinary medicines and vaccines gap
Veterinary medicines and vaccines help preserve animal health and welfare standards as well as protect people from zoonotic diseases. However, access to safe and effective medicines to treat animals is a challenge in many countries. One in five farm animals is lost due to disease each year. We call on the international community to ensure that people around the globe can access veterinary medicines of certified quality.
Improve animal disease surveillance
A global veterinary surveillance network is vital. It helps identify and manage threats from animal diseases to public health, trade, animal welfare etc. However, current surveillance strategies are inadequate, as evidenced by recent disease outbreaks, including Covid-19. We call on the international community to optimise existing animal health surveillance systems so they can identify potential threats to animal and human health in good time.
Enhance collaboration for One Health
One Health recognises that human, animal and environmental health are all linked and advocates for policy and programmes to reflect this. We call on governments and international agencies to prioritise strong animal health systems as part of operationalising One Health and in the attainment of SDG 3.