Food Coalition

Adopting a One Health approach to animal and plant pests and diseases, as well as to prevent future zoonotic pandemics

Similar to over 60 percent of human infectious diseases, the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) is thought to have originated from an animal source. Whereas zoonotic diseases represent a direct threat to human health, animal diseases have devastating impacts on animal health and production, trade and economic development of the region. In the NENA region, livestock contributes between 30 to 80 percent to agriculture GDP and it is the main source of income for vulnerable populations in rural areas. The region is exposed to several transboundary animal diseases (e.g. Foot-and-Mouth disease, Peste des Petits Ruminants, Lumpy skin disease) and zoonotic diseases (e.g. Rift Valley fever, Highly pathogenic Avian Influenza, Rabies, MERS-CoV, Brucellosis). These diseases are increasing the vulnerability of farmers and smallholders even more, given the lack of access to veterinary services, extension services, clinical care and food safety inspections due to the COVID-19 restrictions, in addition to the disruption of value chains. It is therefore extremely important to enhance national, regional and international preparedness and emergency response by operationalizing the One Health approach.

Plant pests and diseases are major threat to food security, nutritional status, and food safety in the region. They are able to cause losses up to 40% in many staple crops, reduce nourishment value of plants by decreasing nutritional content caused by injuries, and increase food safety hazards, i.e. directly through mycotoxins, or indirectly by triggering pest control practices like the use of pesticide sprays. Countries in the NENA region are facing significant challenges in implementing the wide range of diversified measures to address plant pests and diseases. Insufficient national capacities and the lack of proper regional cooperation programmes are contributing to these challenges and limiting surveillance, border controls and inspections, risk assessments, proper diagnosis and effective timely response.

The transboundary nature of some animal and plant pests and diseases makes it impossible for a single country to adequately address them alone. Therefore, a regional cooperation strategy among NENA countries becomes vital to create synergy in order to analyze threats, exchange useful knowledge and information, and coordinate response actions with established harmonized standards.

NENA countries have underlined the importance of efforts to control transboundary animal diseases, zoonotic diseases and plant pests and diseases jointly in a common approach in the 34th FAO Regional Conference for the Near East in 2018.

Priority Areas of work: Preventing the Next Zoonotic Pandemic
SDG: 1. No Poverty, 2. Zero Hunger, 3. Good Health and Well-being, 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth, 12. Responsible Consumption and Production, 15. Life on Land
Level: Regional
Region: Near East and North Africa
Country: Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia, Yemen
Budget: USD 20 million

Action Sheet:

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