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The devastating health, social and economic consequences of COVID-19 have focussed the world’s attention on the growing threat from zoonoses (infectious diseases that are transmitted from animals to humans).

COVID-19 is the starkest example to date of why we must invest in animal health to prevent another pandemic. We are only strong as our weakest health system. COVID-19 joins a long list of zoonotic diseases including rabies, Ebola, SARS, and avian influenza that have killed millions of people.

It is imperative to recognise the complex relationships we have with the companion, production, working and wild animals that we depend on for our food, livelihoods, companionship and wellbeing. Ensuring that animals are healthy and in good welfare is critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Historic failure to recognise animal health systems has led to major gaps:

  • Under-resourced national veterinary services with inadequate staff and infrastructure
  • Critical shortages in veterinary medicines and vaccines
  • Inadequate access to veterinary and paraveterinary services by animal-owning communities
  • Weak disease surveillance at critical points like border crossings and wet markets
  • Lack of coordination between human, animal and planetary health services.


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.

One Health

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.

A Call to Action for Animal Health

Join our effort to build support for more investment in animal health systems that work for people, animals and the planet.

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Who we are

Action for Animal Health

Action for Animal Health (A4AH) advocates for more investment in strong and resilient animal health systems that protect people, animals and the planet. It is a coalition of partners – multilateral organisations, NGOs, research institutes and others with expertise in animal health, human health, environmental health and related fields.

The Coalition

A4AH is a coalition of partners: