Coalition Calls for Better Investment in Animal Health at Official Launch Event
Action for Animal Health was formally launched on 20 May 2021 at a virtual event that attracted over 200 participants from across animal health, human health and the environmental sector.
The coalition, led by Brooke and nine partner organisations, called on governments and international agencies to invest in animal health systems to effectively implement One Health, and to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 3 (good health and wellbeing).
The event was moderated by Katie Husselby, Coordinator of Action for Global Health.
Prof. David Heymann of London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and Chatham House delivered a keynote address in which he gave examples of the devastating effect zoonotic disease can have on human lives and livelihoods, such as the 2007 outbreak of Rift Valley Fever in Sudan. The audience also heard from Violet Natembeya and Pauline Mulunda, two women farmers from Kenya working with coalition member Send a Cow, who described how healthy animals allow their families to eat healthy food, grow crops, earn an income and educate their children.
Dr. Keith Sumption, Chef Veterinary Officer from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) welcomed the coalition as a critical step in putting One Health into practice, recognising the need to strengthen animal health systems. He emphasised that healthy animals are critical to meeting the SDGs, not just health, but also goals on poverty eradication and zero hunger, and expressed support to Action for Animal health on behalf of FAO.
Representatives of coalition members (AU-IBAR, Brooke, Compassion in World Farming, Dogs Trust Worldwide, International Livestock Research Institute, SEBI Livestock, Send a Cow, Soi Dog Foundation, Vétérinaires sans Frontières International, World Veterinary Association) then talked about the importance and timeliness of the Action for Animal Health coalition, and why they decided to get involved.
Dr Ala Izydorczyk from the Soi Dog Foundation talked about rabies as a stark example of a zoonotic disease that can be fully eradicated by vaccines – if these are accessible and affordable. James Kithuka, Brooke East Africa, talked about Brooke’s work in strengthening animal health systems through mentoring veterinary and paraveterinary professionals and agrovets. Richie Alford from Send a Cow explained how animal health matters to all of us, which is why this coalition is so critically important. Dr Karen Reed, Director of Dogs Trust Worldwide, drew attention to the fact that today a person dies of rabies, a fully preventable disease, every nine minutes, a reminder of the importance of vaccines to protect animal and human health.
To conclude the event, Ellie Parravani, Senior Coordinator for Acton for Animal Health, urged all organisations working in sectors relevant to One Health to become signatories to the Call to Action, to hold world leaders to account and ensure that Covid-19 is indeed the last global pandemic.