Food Coalition

Preventing next pandemics in Asia and the Pacific

Disease and illnesses have plagued humanity since the earliest days. However, it was not until the marked shift to agrarian communities that the scale and spread of diseases increased dramatically. Population growth, destruction of natural habits, substandard markets and uncontrolled trade especially in Asia have created new opportunities for human and animal interactions, accelerating the emergence of new diseases, some with the potential of becoming pandemics. In addition, the threat of bacteria and other pathogens such as viruses, parasites and fungi becoming resistant to antimicrobials and previously functioning drugs – known as antimicrobial resistance (AMR) - is considered a “silent” pandemic that the world has been facing incrementally over the last decade. Coronaviruses (CoV) have been identified as pathogens since the 1960s, infecting humans as well as various animals. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), first identified in December 2019, resulting in an ongoing pandemic, affecting lives and livelihoods across the world.

Lessons learned from the current pandemic include the unprecedented human and socio-economic global impacts of an emerging zoonotic disease. “Prevention is better than cure”, it is now more important than ever to address drivers of disease emergence, and spillover, investing in coordinated mechanisms, policies and capacities at national, regional and global levels to prevent, prepare and respond to health threats at animal-human-environment interfaces.

The current COVID-19 pandemic emphasizes the need to prepare, prevent, detect and respond at the primary spillover level where the next pandemic is likely to start. Main risk settings for new pandemics are locations where close interaction between wildlife, livestock and humans provide the setting for pathogen spillover between different species. Early detection and response are essential. This requires the establishment or strengthening of current surveillance and laboratory systems as well as development and adoption
of emergency preparedness procedures, contingency plans and standard operating procedures (SOPs) and availability of emergency funds to intervene rapidly and limit the spread and impact beyond the initial outbreak.

Furthermore, AMR threatens the effective prevention and treatment of an
ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi, posing a serious threat to global public health that requires urgent action across all government sectors and society.

Addressing health threats at animal-human-environment interfaces requires collaboration of various ministries from health, agriculture, natural resources and the environment, ideally under the umbrella of an inter-ministerial committee and/or task force (multi-sectoral, One Health approach). While various countries in Asia and the Pacific have established One Health coordination mechanisms, it is important to determine how well they operate and the level of coordination for the development and adoption of policies/ strategies aimed at reducing the risk of pathogen emergence and spillover, pandemic potential as well as AMR.

Priority Areas of work: One Health Approach - Preventing the next Zoonotic Pandemic
SDG: 1. No Poverty, 2. Zero Hunger, 3. Good Health and Well-being, 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth, 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities, 12. Responsible Consumption and Production, 15. Life on Land, 17. Partnerships to achieve the Goal
Level: Regional
Region: Asia and the Pacific
Country: Afghanistan, American Samoa, Bhutan, Cambodia, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Indonesia, Kiribati, Laos, Marshall Islands, Myanmar, Nauru, Nepal, New Caledonia, Niue, Northern Marianas, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Vietnam
Budget: USD 30 million

Action Sheet:

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