Press Conference to Launch Report on Preventing Next Pandemic

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06-Jul-2020 00:19:01
Ms. Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and Mr. Jimmy Smith, Director of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), discuss the launch of the report, “Preventing the Next Pandemic: Zoonotic Diseases and How to Break the Chain of Transmission”.

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As the battle against COVID-19 rages, the world can expect to see other diseases that pass from animals to humans emerge, according to the new UN report launched on Monday, which maintains that there is still time to head off potential zoonotic pandemics.

“The science is clear that if we keep exploiting wildlife and destroying our ecosystems, then we can expect to see a steady stream of these diseases jumping from animals to humans in the years ahead,” said UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen.

“Pandemics are devastating to our lives and our economies, and as we have seen over the past months, it is the poorest and the most vulnerable who suffer the most,” she added. “To prevent future outbreaks, we must become much more deliberate about protecting our natural environment.”

“The situation on the continent today is ripe for intensifying existing zoonotic diseases and facilitating the emergence and spread of new ones,” said ILRI Director-General Jimmy Smith. “But with their experiences with Ebola and other emerging diseases, African countries are demonstrating proactive ways to manage disease outbreaks”.

The report identifies seven trends driving the increasing emergence of zoonotic diseases, including a growing demand for animal protein, unsustainable farming practices and the global climate crisis.

It also sets out 10 practical steps that nations can take right now, including expanded research into zoonotic diseases, improved monitoring and regulation of food systems, and incentivizing sustainable land management practices.

In particular, the report recommends that governments adopt a “One Health” approach that brings together public health, veterinary and environmental expertise to prevent and respond to zoonotic disease outbreaks.

“Preventing the Next Pandemic” is a joint effort by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), both based in Nairobi.

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