One Health approach to prevent the emergence of zoonotic pathogens

Azlan Othman

In light of the continuing public health threats posed by emerging diseases and new variants of COVID-19, the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity (ACB) and the Food and Agriculture (FAO) seek to build capacity to integrate biodiversity into health frameworks and systems.

ACB and FAO have signed an agreement to strengthen collaboration between the Ministries of Natural Resources Management, Forestry and Wildlife of ASEAN, within the framework of the One Health approach, with the overall aim of prevent the spread and emergence of infectious zoonotic pathogens at source.

One Health is a collaborative approach across sectors and disciplines with the aim of achieving optimal health outcomes by considering the interconnectedness between people, animals, plants and their common environment.

“The crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on how our public health and well-being depend on healthy ecosystems and rich biodiversity. This partnership comes at a good time as we prepare to recover from the pandemic and build our long-term resilience in the face of similar crises,” said ACB Executive Director Theresa Mundita Lim.

Lim said that given the rich biological diversity of ASEAN, it is important for the region to be aware of the relevance of this natural wealth to reduce the risk of future pandemics, given that there could still be around 1 .7 million viruses thought to be found in various species of mammals and birds, and up to half of these could become infectious to humans.

“We are entering an era of pandemics, as scientists have warned before, and meeting ever-changing challenges requires an integrated and holistic approach, which pays due attention to our common environment,” Lim said.

The number of Omicron cases has increased exponentially across the world, leading to further impacts on lives and economies.

In response to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, ASEAN Member States (AMS) – comprising Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – adopted at the 37th ASEAN Summit in 2020 the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework (ACRF).

The ACRF provides a blueprint to guide collaborative action among partners, including ecosystem-based approaches to increase resilience to future pandemics and continued promotion of biodiversity mainstreaming across relevant sectors.

Under the agreement between ACB and FAO, a regional implementation plan will be developed that will complement existing cooperation between ASEAN and other relevant agencies.

CDA will also work with FAO on the two virtual learning center training modules being developed and aimed at promoting the importance of biodiversity, ecosystems and the environment in the veterinary and health sectors. public.

The ACB is an intergovernmental organization facilitating cooperation and coordination between the 10 AMS on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of these natural treasures.

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