Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Monday, December 16, 2013

Surge in diseases of animal origin necessitates new approach to health

World Livestock 2013: Changing Disease Landscapes.
FAO. 2013.
101 pages

16 December 2013, Rome - Population growth, agricultural expansion, and the rise of globe-spanning food supply chains have dramatically altered how diseases emerge, jump species boundaries, and spread, according to an FAO report released today. A new, more holistic approach to managing disease threats at the animal-human-environment interface is needed, it argues.

Seventy percent of the new diseases that have emerged in humans over recent decades are of animal origin and, in part, directly related to the human quest for more animal-sourced food, according to the report,

The ongoing expansion of agricultural lands into wild areas, coupled with a worldwide boom in livestock production, means that "livestock and wildlife are more in contact with each other, and we ourselves are more in contact with animals than ever before," said Ren Wang, FAO Assistant Director-General for Agriculture and Consumer Protection.
"What this means is that we cannot deal with human health, animal health, and ecosystem health in isolation from each other - we have to look at them together, and address the drivers of disease emergence, persistence and spread, rather than simply fighting back against diseases after they emerge," he added.
FAO's new report provides a number of compelling reasons for taking a new tack on disease emergence.
  • Developing countries face a staggering burden of human, zoonotic and livestock diseases, it says, creating a major impediment to development and food safety. Recurrent epidemics in livestock affect food security, livelihoods, and national and local economies in poor and rich countries alike . 
  • Meanwhile, food safety hazards and antibiotic resistance are on the increase worldwide. 
  • Globalization and climate change are redistributing pathogens, vectors, and hosts, and pandemic risks to humans caused by pathogens of animal origin present a major concern. 
FAO's report identifies four main fronts for action:
  1. Reducing poverty-driven endemic disease burdens in humans and livestock 
  2. Addressing the biological threats driven by globalization and climate change 
  3. Providing safer animal-source food from healthy livestock and agriculture 
  4. Preventing disease agents from jumping from wildlife to domestic animals and humans. 
In particular, the UN agency says assembling better evidence on the drivers of animal disease must be top priority, and the resulting analyses must focus attention on improving risk assessment and prevention.

Listen FAO chief veterinarian Juan Lubroth discusses the report.

No comments:

Post a Comment