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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.

The Case for Investing in Animal Health to Support One Health

Read our report on the current state of animal health systems in low-and-middle-income countries.

Download the full version

Download the policy brief in English / French / Spanish

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 members and supporters. 




The call-to-action is supported by:

Afghan Aid

Animal Welfare and Protection Society, Lahore College for Women University

Association for Biorisk Management (Pakistan)

Brooke India

Brooke USA

Centre for Animal Welfare, University of Winchester


Coalition of African Animal Welfare Organisations

Colorado State University-Animal Population Health Institute

Dutch Committee for Afghanistan Livestock Programmes

Equitarian Initiative

Four Paws

Global Alliance for Animals and People

Groupe de recherche en épidémiologie des zoonoses et santé publique (GREZOSP) (Canada)

Hermon Development Foundation (Nigeria)

Indian Veterinary Association (India)

Indonesian Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics Association (IVEEA)

Institute for Health and Food Safety Zenica (Bosnia and Herzegovina

International Companion Animal Management coalition (ICAM)

International Veterinary Students’ Association

Jai Dog Rescue (Thailand)

Kamdhenu University (India)

Kenya Animal Health Network

Kenya Veterinary Vaccines Production institute

Mare and Foal Sanctuary (UK)

MIDAS Veterinary Services (Nigeria)

National Academy of Veterinary Sciences (India)

National Centre for Animal Health (Libya)

One Health Bangladesh

One Health Brasil

One Health Commission

One Health Group (USA)

One Health Scientific Solutions

Dr Papa Seck (Technical Advisor to President of Senegal)

Laureate Professor Peter Doherty

Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, MP – Chairperson, People For Animals

The Britten Foundation

Toby and Regina Wyles Charitable Trust

Union des Amis Socio Culturels d’Action en Developpement (UNASCAD) (Haiti)

Veterinary News and Views (Pakistan)

Veterinary Statutory Body of Kyrgyzstan

We World – GVC en Nicaragua

World Animal Protection