The Action for Animal Health (A4AH) coalition has welcomed the Political Declaration on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response adopted at the United Nations General Assembly last week, and is hopeful that it is a step closer to preventing the spread of zoonotic diseases from animals to people.
A4AH has long advocated for One Health – the connected wellbeing of animals, people and the environment – to be the cornerstone of pandemic prevention and preparedness. The coalition are pleased that governments are committing to this approach to protect future generations of animals and people.
The declaration (agreed on 20 September) is an historic milestone for world leaders to take collective action and minimise the risk from zoonotic diseases. A4AH congratulates the UN Member States for their pledged commitment, and urges them to turn these commitments into action to prevent another pandemic.
Laura Skippen, chair of A4AH, said
The next pandemic is likely to come from animals. To prevent this, animal, human and environmental sectors need to come together under the One Health umbrella. And for a One Health approach to be successful, member states need to fix the gaps in animal health systems – which have long suffered the consequences of inattention and underinvestment. Shortages of skilled animal professionals, weak surveillance systems, and poor access to animal health services as well as veterinary medicines and vaccines, leave the door wide open to outbreaks of zoonotic disease and antimicrobial resistance. Whilst we congratulate member states on agreeing to this declaration, we urge them to turn these on-paper commitments into action to prevent the next pandemic.
A4AH hopes that this declaration will accelerate ongoing negotiations for a pandemic accord. The coalition believes that any new accord must contain specific obligations to prevent the spread of zoonotic disease. This includes strengthening and resourcing animal health systems, which are critical to the prevention of disease, the early detection of pathogens, reporting, control, and prevention of spread.