G20 urged to ramp up animal health investment to battle pandemics

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A coalition of animal health organisations has penned an open letter to world leaders to invest in animal health to prevent future pandemics.

Action for Animal Health, a coalition that includes the African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), Brooke and the World Veterinary Association, is urging G20 leaders to end “historic underinvestment” in animal health ahead of this weekend’s G20 Summit in Rome.

More than 75% of new human infectious diseases emerge from animals, with zoonotic diseases affecting over two billion people. Over the last decade, zoonotic diseases have directly cost economies over $20 billion, with indirect losses of over $200 billion.

The letter states: “The G20 has recognised that we’re only as strong as our weakest health system. The only way to protect us from future pandemics is through a holistic approach called ‘One Health’, which focuses on the health of people, animals and the environment. But the transformative potential of One Health can only be realised if G20 leaders invest in weak animal health systems across the world.”

Action for Animal Health proposes that G20 leaders finance and build sustainable health systems for people, the planet and animals through a range of methods, including improving access to safe medicines and vaccines for animals, and ensuring communities have access to skilled animal health services.

Action for Animal Health is a global coalition of multilateral and non-governmental organisations made up of The African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), Brooke, Compassion in World Farming, Dogs Trust Worldwide, Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed), Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Send a Cow, Soi Dog Foundation, Supporting Evidence-Based Interventions (SEBI) – Livestock, Vétérinaires Sans Frontières (VSF) International, and World Veterinary Association.

A woman in Kenya with her donkeys, who are carrying charcoal.
A woman in Kenya with her donkeys, who are carrying charcoal. © Brooke/Freya Dowson

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