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Big steps forward for animal health at G7

The G7 summit saw some major steps forward for closing the animal vaccines gap. Now we must ensure the systems are there to deliver them and that animal health systems as a whole are not forgotten.

The concept of One Health has gained recognition at the highest levels of power. The G7 leaders have endorsed the Carbis Bay declaration, which outlines actions for countries to take to prevent and prepare for another pandemic.

Action for Animal Health member, Brooke – the only animal welfare organisation at the summit – welcomes the G7’s commitment to champion a One Health approach and invest in their human, animal and environmental health systems, as well as their commitment to support vulnerable countries to do the same. The UK’s announcement of a new animal vaccine manufacturing and innovation centre is also a welcome development to close the veterinary vaccines gap.

However, the infrastructure must be there to deliver the vaccines where they are needed most. Lower-and-middle income countries have a shortage of animal health professionals to deliver vaccines and face barriers in accessing them. Brooke calls on the G7 to take action on their commitment to support vulnerable countries by making financing available for strengthening whole animal health systems to effectively operationalise One Health.

Carine Bambara, External Affairs Manager at the Brooke said: “It is encouraging to see such recognition of the importance of animal health to global health at the highest levels of power.

During my participation at the G7, I was heartened by Dr Mike Ryan’s (WHO) comments that it is critical to work on whole systems strengthening, including encouraging reporting of disease by farmers by compensating them when their animals are culled. And Dr Tedros (WHO) made it clear that prevention at source will be at the forefront of any new pandemic treaty.

The commitment in the Carbis Bay Declaration to support vulnerable countries to strengthen their human, animal and environmental health systems is pleasing to see. But we need to know how this will happen. We also need to know how a new vaccines centre fits into a wider pandemic prevention strategy, as well as how it will tackle other zoonotic diseases that do not have pandemic potential but still impact on food security and income security.

We must see future commitments from the G7 countries, and at the upcoming G20 summit, to strengthen animal health systems as a whole – especially in lower-and-middle-income countries where there are shortfalls in the veterinary workforce, as well as barriers to accessing animal health services, medicines and vaccines”.

Action for Animal Health is calling for governments and international agencies to invest in animal health systems as a part of putting One Health into practice. Add your signature to the call-to-action here