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Global emergence of infectious diseases: links with wild meat consumption, ecosystem disruption, habitat degradation and biodiversity loss

This policy brief focuses on the topic of global emergence of infectious diseases and its links with consumption of wild meat, ecosystem disruption, habitat degradation and biodiversity loss. Emerging infectious diseases are a significant and growing threat to global health, economies and security. There is evidence that landscape changes and biodiversity loss are key drivers of the (re-) emergence of infectious diseases. More systematic research is needed to better understand the role of ecosystems in the regulation of diseases. Effective implementation of the One Health approach, promoting coordinated multi-sectoral and multidisciplinary responses, has the potential to reduce disease transmission risks and improve health and well-being of all people, wildlife and livestock. The brief also highlights wild species that continue to be an important source of food, income and cultural identity for millions of indigenous and rural people, particularly in tropical and subtropical regions. In many parts of the world, wild meat represents a luxury item. This demand creates markets that are driving hunting of wildlife to unsustainable levels and increases risks of spill-over of wildlife-related pathogens. Reducing demand for wild meat as a luxury good for urban populations – whether in wild meat sourcing or wild meat consuming countries is urgently needed. Finally, the brief proposes a of series of actions that will help to tackle the complex and interrelated issues associated with wildlife habitat disruption, biodiversity loss and the spread of zoonotic diseases.