Publication: OHHLEP whitepaper “Prevention of zoonotic spillover” offers definition and focus

The new whitepaper/ opinion piece by the One Health High Level Expert Panel (OHHLEP) expresses a crucial insight into effectively and efficiently preventing pandemics: pandemic prevention starts at the source, in other words, prevention takes place before pathogens spill over from animals, to humans. Often these pathogens originate in wildlife. While pandemic preparedness and response has its merits in dealing with outbreaks and containment challenges,  it is essential to actively identify underlying drivers and critical control points to address risk factors for spillover events.

Prevention of zoonotic spillover

In the whitepaper “Prevention of zoonotic spillover – From relying on response to reducing the risk at source”, the OHHLEP establishes an important and todate missing definition of what primary prevention of zoonotic disease spillover means:

“Prevention includes addressing the drivers of disease emergence, namely ecological, meteorological and anthropogenic factors and activities that increase spillover risk, in order to reduce the risk of human infection. It is informed by, amongst other actions, biosurveillance in natural hosts, people and the environment, understanding pathogen infection dynamics and implementing intervention activities.” (OHHLEP, 2023, p. 7)

Centrally, the paper (a) highlights the importance to actually reduce the risk of occurrence of spillover, which can subsequently lead to outbreaks, epidemics and in the worst-case pandemics rather than s only preparing for and responding to the imminent threat when it has already emerged as an outbreak or epidemic. Concretely, it calls for this position to be integrated into “several ongoing discussions, revisions and developments of new instruments, funding strategies, tools and plans that can potentially play a role in the prevention of future pandemics, including the WHO Pandemic Instrument and Global Biodiversity Framework.” (b) OHHLEP clarifies and underscores that addressing the early drivers of pathogen spill over in fact has many co-benefits, especially for the economy, for biodiversity, and for mitigating and adapting to climate change.

The full paper, including its results framework with impact and intermediate indicators is highly recommended and can be found here.

Image Source: Prevention of zoonotic spillover to humans (OHHLEP, 2023, p. 12)

Joint Symposium with Alliance-funded projects 

The Alliance supports a diverse group of projects around the world financially. There are projects in over 20 different countries and globally financed by the Alliance and implemented by over 35 organisations. These projects address different aspects of the health risks from wildlife trade, along the trade chain, ranging from pathogen identification to behaviour change approaches, to recommendations for decision makers. In this way, the projects make an important contribution to the Alliance’s goals.  

At the very beginning of the new year 2023, the Alliance Secretariat invited all funding recipients to a three-day joint symposium. The aim of the symposium was to bring the project partners together, to network and exchange on key challenges, enabling factors, and possible solutions. In two networking-sessions, participants had the chance to meet and learn about other projects.  

A focus of the discussion was about how to engage stakeholders at all levels and project phases and how to strengthen communication and collaboration. An important outcome of the symposium was the sense of community among the participants. While they are often working independently, sometimes in very remote areas of the world, they are all united by their commitment to a healthier world for animals, people, and ecosystems.  

The secretariat of the Alliance is proud to support the projects in their work and draws a positive balance from the symposium. The goal that all projects get to know each other and thus stimulate a more intensive exchange and cooperation was achieved.  

We are also thrilled to announce that a profile of each of the funded projects can now be found on our website’s project map.  

Knowledge, attitudes, and practices towards the risk of zoonotic diseases, wildlife trade and wildlife consumption in Latin America

The International Alliance against Health Risks in Wildlife Trade supports a variety of projects along the One Heath spectrum. The project “Knowledge, attitudes, and practices towards the risk of zoonotic diseases, wildlife trade and wildlife consumption in Latin America” („KAP-Study wildlife“) is being carried out by the Center for International Health of the LMU Hospital, which is working with its partner universities in four Latin American countries.

The project aims to identify knowledge, attitudes, and practices towards the risk of zoonotic diseases, wildlife trade, and consumption in different populations living in urban and rural areas, including indigenous communities, of Latin America. Based on its results, the project team will develop innovative approaches, according to the local context, to educate communities and co-construct behavioral change approaches to raise awareness and change behavior in the population.

Watch this short video for more information, or visit the project website.

Publication: Panorama’s Solutions in Focus series now features an issue on “Wildlife Health and Zoonotic Disease Risk Reduction”

Biodiversity is essential for well-functioning ecosystems, which in turn provide the foundation for human life. Ecosystem services include providing clean air, fresh water, medicines, and food security (WHO, 2015). Wildlife is an important and integral part of biodiversity. At the same time, it is also a source of known and currently unknown pathogens, some of which have the potential to become pandemic in humans. 

The Panorama partnership initiative recently published a booklet on “Wildlife Health and Zoonotic Disease Risk Reduction“ (IUCN and EcoHealth Alliance, 2022) as part of their Solutions in Focus series. The format is meant to provide an insight into some of the current best practices to achieve risk reduction in the human-wildlife interface.  

Many of PANORAMA’s partners are also members of the Alliance, such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and EcoHealth Alliance. Even more Alliance members appear in the project descriptions, like the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Institut national de la recherche agronomique (INRAE), and the Southeast Asia One Health University (SEAOHUN).  

We congratulate our colleagues for the insightful contribution to this important topic and encourage everyone who did not yet have the chance to have a look at the booklet. You can find it here.



IUCN and EcoHealth Alliance (2022). PANORAMA Solutions in Focus: Wildlife Health and Zoonotic Disease Risk Reduction. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN and New York, United States of America: EcoHealth Alliance.  

World Health Organization (WHO) (2015). Biodiversity and Health.

Image from EcoHealth Alliance (@EcoHealthNYC) / Twitter

Photo: Francesco Ungaro