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G20: invest in animal health, or risk undermining global health

The G20 Health Ministers will meet this weekend to discuss the One Health approach as a way to protect us from future pandemics. But to make One Health a reality, ministers must make the case for G20 countries to invest in animal health systems globally.

The Action for Animal Health coalition has written to G20 health ministers to urge them to invest in animal health systems and implement One Health effectively.

Global health is under threat

75% of all new human infections emerge from animals. These zoonotic diseases, like COVID-19, and growing anti-microbial resistance are a huge risk to global health and economic recovery. This means the need to embrace a One Health approach has never been more urgent.

Historic underinvestment in animal health systems has led to under-resourced national veterinary services, as well as shortages in essential veterinary medicines and vaccines. Animal-owning communities struggle to access these already strained services. And disease surveillance at critical points, like border crossings and wet markets, fail to stop diseases spreading to people and animals.

We can’t combat these threats to global health without robust, well-resourced animal health systems across the world.

4 transformative actions for animal health

We want to see action in four areas:

1. Ensure communities have access to animal health services
Even the remotest communities need access to animal health services. Governments must engage with communities to understand which diseases are impacting them and deliver services that meet their needs.

2. Increase and upskill the animal health workforce globally
Animal health workers, such as veterinarians and paraprofessionals, play a vital role in the health and welfare of animals and people. Governments need to expand, educate and support this workforce to nurture and retain effective health professionals.

3. Improve access to safe medicines and vaccines for animals
Good quality veterinary medicines and vaccines used by well-trained professionals reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance, and protect animals and people from the spread of disease. Governments must close the dangerous gap in medicines and vaccines globally.

4. Strengthen early warning disease surveillance systems that are effective from the community level upwards
Surveillance systems need to be improved to proactively identify emerging risks, rather than reacting too slowly or failing to detect new pathogens until it is too late. Governments must strengthen surveillance at all levels, including at community level, where disease outbreaks could be spotted early.

Finally, the G20 must ensure that any new funding mechanism for One Health initiatives complements and enhances animal health systems.

Read our full recommendations for governments, institutions and donors.


A man in Kenya holds a sheep
GALVMed/Karel Prinslo