Geneva/Vienna, 7 June 2023 – Global animal welfare organisation, FOUR PAWS, has called on governments to not “water down” the international treaty on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, that is currently being discussed by World Health Organisation´s (WHO) Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB).
The INB Bureau’s Text was published last week on June 2nd and has been met with criticism from international health and animal welfare experts. The Bureau’s text presents a compilation of key elements and options which have been shared by WHO Member States over the past months. Civil Society welcomes the references to prevention of outbreaks, One Health and equity. However, Civil Society is deeply concerned about the weak extent to which One Health and prevention at source are reflected despite strong support by Member States, Quadripartite and experts.
One Health and addressing the root causes of zoonotic outbreaks to prevent spillover events at the human-animal-environment interface need to be listed as non-negotiable, if Member States are serious about protecting the most vulnerable communities and enabling equity.
Nina Jamal, FOUR PAWS Head of Pandemics, said now was “not the time to take a step backwards” in the negotiations.
“We have seen so much progress on the pandemic treaty over the past year but now we are getting to the crucial moment, and we cannot afford for governments to get cold feet. This current version will not protect us from the next pandemic. Supporting communities at the human-animal-environment interface in protecting animals and the environment must be at the heart of this document in order to increase the chances of achieving the WHO CA+ objectives to “prevent pandemics, save lives, reduce disease burden and protect livelihoods” and so far, it has fallen short of those key requirements. A major driver of pandemics is and remains human “use” and consumption of animals and nature."
Nina Jamal, FOUR PAWS Head of Pandemics
“Now is right moment to solidify and build upon the collective commitment to achieve equity and health for all, humans, animals and the environment. There is no equity after an outbreak because for the most vulnerable communities at the human-animal-environment interface it will be too late. Secondly, supporting communities in transitioning away from high-risk practices, such as the legal and illegal wildlife trade as a driver of disease emergence, and securing their livelihoods through safer means, would be an effective measure to prevent pandemics.
Jamal concluded, “And finally, One Health and prevention at source should be treated as the key pillar of the agreement, instead of limiting it to single, currently optional articles, because prevention through a One Health approach offers a holistic and transformative pathway and the best chance to averting the outbreak and spillover of dangerous diseases if fully integrated into the instrument.”
Bureau’s text of the WHO CA+: https://apps.who.int/gb/inb/pdf_files/inb5/A_INB5_6-en.pdf
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FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org