UN Agencies Establish One Health Expert Group To Advise On Animal Disease Risks

Reuters reports that the One Health high-level expert group was an initiative launched by France and Germany at the end of last year and held its inaugural meeting this week.

He will advise WHO, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Organization for Animal Health and the United Nations Environment Program on the development of “frameworks for the assessment and monitoring of risks ”and establish“ good practices to prevent and prepare for zoonotic epidemics ”.

The panel will also examine potential transmission risks in food production and distribution, urbanization and infrastructure construction, international travel and trade, and activities that lead to biodiversity loss and climate change, said WHO in a press release.

The panel will publish its first recommendations later this year.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, said: “Human health does not exist in a vacuum, and neither can our efforts to protect and promote it. The close links between human, animal and environmental health require close collaboration, communication and coordination between the sectors concerned. The High Level Expert Group is an indispensable initiative to transform One Health from a concept into concrete policies that protect the health of the world’s population.

The global COVID-19 pandemic is widely believed to have originated from wildlife trade networks in China and Southeast Asia. The closest known genetic match to the coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2 has been found in bats.

A joint study into the origins of COVID-19 by China and the WHO virtually ruled out the possibility that SARS-CoV-2 was leaked from a laboratory known to study bat coronaviruses, saying the route most likely transmission was still unidentified intermediate species.

China, where the COVID-19 epidemic began in late 2019, has already banned most types of wildlife trade and consumption and is also putting up ecological “safety barriers” to keep humans away from habitats animals.

WHO says three quarters of all emerging infectious diseases are of animal origin.

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