The COVID-19 pandemic, but also other disease outbreaks of animal origin such as SARS and Ebola, and their dramatic societal and economic costs show the importance of applying a One Health approach across sectors, as a matter of urgency.
In October 2019, a mere two months before the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the global economy and severely impacted our societies, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the German Federal Foreign Office (FFO) co-hosted a conference titled “One Planet, One Health, One Future” which brought together members of academia, government, policy, and civil society from nearly 50 countries to forge the Berlin Principles on One Health, capturing the threat to society if we continue to ignore the interconnected issues relevant to human, animal and environmental health.
The science is clear that pandemics of zoonotic origin, such as COVID-19, are directly related to the increased human/wildlife interface caused by land-use change, in particular the destruction of intact ecosystems; deforestation and forest degradation; and the role of urban markets in live wild birds and mammals and wildlife farm. Recent studies show that the single most effective and cost-effective way to prevent pandemics is to avoid pathogen spillover to humans, wildlife, and other animals in the first place, referred to as pandemic prevention at source.
The European Union (EU) is stepping up efforts in the One Health area, notably through the seven-year Sustainable Wildlife Management (SWM) Programme, an initiative of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) funded by the EU with co-funding from the French Facility for Global Environment (FFEM) and the French Development Agency (AFD).
For more information about WCS’s work on health, please click here.