Food Coalition

Building One Health capacity for natural resource managers

Similar to the leading hypothesis for COVID-19 emergence, over 60 percent of human diseases have come from animals, and of those, most originated in wildlife and spilled over into people directly, or were transmitted to people via livestock. The main risk for a new pandemic is increased contact rates between wildlife, livestock and people, and globalization which can transport a disease around the world in a day. Increased human-wildlife contact takes place through wild meat hunting, butchering and marketing, extractive industries, the wildlife trade industry and informal wildlife farming. Livestock-wildlife-human contact takes place with expansion and intensification of livestock production, at live animal markets, and through deforestation, loss and degradation of natural habitats and encroachment on wildlife habitat by people and livestock. More than 80 percent of the rural poor (often women and children) are dependent on forests, livestock and wild meat, and they have limited awareness on risky behaviors, safe farming practices, and food safety precautions to limit the risk of disease spill-over. They are at high risk, specifically in l low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) affected by deforestation and illicit exploitation and trade of forest and wildlife products and where medical, veterinary and animal production services, and food safety control systems are unlikely to be sufficiently capable to prevent, detect and respond to an emerging zoonotic disease. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, as a multi-disciplinary organization with a key role in One Health (OH), is in a unique position to engage the natural resources management, animal, veterinary and public health sectors, through its multiple technical units, decentralized offices and diverse expertise, to support countries to address drivers of disease emergence and transmission, to prevent further deforestation and biodiversity loss, and to reduce the impacts of emerging diseases on people, livelihoods, livestock, wildlife populations, national economies and food or nutrition security. Significant progress has been made to date on improving national OH capacity in many countries globally, however, it is widely acknowledged that engagement with managers of forest and wildlife and other natural resources across sectors and production systems – such as agriculture, rangelands and livestock, and other land uses – has to be increased when addressing zoonotic disease prevention and control. Most OH financial and training resources are targeting veterinary and public health professionals, which represent the first line of defense during response efforts. However, to prevent pandemics and address the drivers of disease emergence and transmission in a sustainable, comprehensive OH manner, engagement of all natural resource managers is needed, and a careful evaluation of the risk factors known to be driving disease emergence or spillover is required and may include: modifications to natural habitats (deforestation and biodiversity loss, encroachment by farms/cities, environmental contamination); changes in agricultural practices (expansion/intensification of crop and livestock farming, waste management, antimicrobial use); and human behaviors (food choices, exotic pet ownership, wildlife farming). Addressing the capacity gaps of the OH approach within the ministries of forestry and wildlife, other natural resources and land use sectors is crucial. There is also a need to include forestry, wildlife, and natural resource management government sectors in capacity building to allow proper engagement in OH programming, implementation and monitoring with emphasis on preventing future pandemics.

Priority Areas of work: One Health Approach - Preventing the next Zoonotic Pandemic
SDG: 1. No Poverty, 2. Zero Hunger, 13. Climate Action, 14. Life Below Water, 15. Life on Land, 17. Partnerships to achieve the Goal
Level: Regional
Region: Africa
Budget: USD 22 million

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