The World Federation for Animals has joined forces with the Born Free Foundation, FOUR PAWS, Phoenix Zones Initiative, and The Global Initiative to End Wildlife Crime to provide comments on the draft text of a pandemic instrument being developed by the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body. The sixth round of negotiations will run from today until July 21, 2023.
In their remarks, the organisations stressed the importance of going beyond surveillance in pandemic prevention. They highlighted the need to tackle the root causes of pathogen spillover from animals to humans by including pre-outbreak measures. They also emphasised the importance of One Health strategies that integrate institutions specialising in human health, animal health and welfare, and environmental health to tackle pandemics as the One Health challenges they are.
The organisations additionally underscored the crucial need to achieve equity before an outbreak by enabling vulnerable communities to protect themselves. They called for governments to develop strategies with those communities to help them transition from practices that can trigger an outbreak. In alignment with the Quadripartite’s Joint Plan of Action, the One Health approach offers an effective framework for identifying risk factors and facilitating the transition to alternative livelihood sources.
Sustainable financing is also identified as crucial to enable Member States to implement the outlined measures effectively. Financing should be tied to implementing effective One Health strategies and plans, with resources dedicated to tackling the root causes of pandemics.
Finally, the group recommended that the World Health Organization be tasked with a coordination function to collaborate with secretariats of international agreements and institutions across the Pandemic Preparedness, Prevention, and Response (PPPR) pathway. While the WHO is mandated to protect human health, implementing measures to prevent, prepare for, and respond to pandemics should not fall solely on the WHO. Leaving different stages across the Pandemic PPR pathway in institutional silos is ineffective.
It is crucial the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body takes these recommendations into account to ensure that the pandemic instrument can deliver on its objectives to “prevent pandemics, save lives, reduce disease burden and protect livelihoods.” Only by adopting a holistic, One Health approach that addresses the root causes of pandemics and promotes equity can we hope to prevent future outbreaks and protect vulnerable communities.
You can find the full remarks here.
Credit: Andrew Skowron / We Animals Media