The Cost of Inaction – The Importance of Pandemic Prevention at the Source

The Alliance Secretariat hosted the side event “The Cost of Inaction – The Importance of Pandemic Prevention at the Source”, on Saturday 16th October at the World Health Summit 2022 in Berlin. The panelists represented various spheres within a One Health approach, emphasizing on a holistic perspective to bolster pandemic prevention at the source to reduce costs and provide co-benefits to climate and biodiversity.  

You may click on the following link to watch the recorded session on YouTube: 

WS 06 – The Cost of Inaction – The Importance of Pandemic Prevention at the Source – YouTube 

Prof. Andy Dobson, Dr. Catherine Machalaba and Dr. Eckart v. Hirschhausen at the World Health Summit.
About the panelists: 

Prof. Dr. Andrew Dobson 

Princeton University | Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology | Professor | United States of America 

Jochen Flasbarth 

Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) | State Secretary | Germany 

Dr. Catherine Machalaba 

EcoHealth Alliance | Senior Policy Advisor and Senior Scientist | United States of America 

Dr. María Neira 

World Health Organization (WHO) | Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health | Director 

Dr. Eckart von Hirschhausen 

Physician, Science Journalist, Founder of Healthy Planet – Healthy People Foundation and World Health Summit Ambassador | Germany 

Dr. María Neira and Jochen Flasbarth at World Health Summit 2022, Berlin, Germany & Digital, October 16-18, 2022. Photo: World Health Summit
About the event: 

Scientists calculate the cost of preventing further pandemics – via forest protection and improved wildlife trade regulation – over the next decade would amount to just 2% of the estimated financial damage caused by COVID-19. Such prevention strategies would also come with considerable co-benefits for climate and biodiversity. Research shows the proportion of pathogens crossing from one stage to the next, from pre-emergence to pandemic stage decreases as the costs for stopping those increases. In this inverse correlation: the earlier we prevent, the more cost-efficient it is. 

Yet attention is currently focused on later-stage prevention, preparedness and response. According to WHO’s Cristina Romanelli, only 3% of current efforts to stop future pandemics goes to primary prevention (pre-spillover), while the remaining 97% is invested in secondary prevention and preparedness measures. 

In the wake of immediate reactions to COVID-19 – most of which were taken under immense pressure to respond to and manage an ongoing crisis – many key actors, are now contemplating how to avoid and handle possible future pandemics more intelligently, efficiently and effectively. Considering this challenge, we ask: How can lessons learned from COVID-19 and primary prevention take a more prominent role in global responses to reduce the risk of future pandemics? What would such a policy path look like? And how might it incorporate regulations in line with WHO’s Manifesto (“Prescriptions for a healthy and green recovery from COVID-19”) that recognize the incredible opportunity for investments contributing to solving the triple, intersecting crises of health, climate and biodiversity? 

Screening review: “Breaking Boundaries – the Science of our Planet” with J. Rockström

Documentary screening review with Prof. Dr. Johan Rockström, joint director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) Germany and Tanja Gönner, Chair of the Management Board of the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ). 

The Earth’s boundaries have already been pushed far beyond stable living conditions. Still, there is room for cautious optimism. But the window for action is closing rapidly.  

During the film screening of the acclaimed documentary “Breaking Boundaries – the science of our Planet” at the GIZ Berlin Representation, participants learned about planetary boundaries which indicate the safe operating space for humanity.  

Prof. Johan Rockström introduced the concept of planetary boundaries in 2009. In the movie, he defines 9 parameters, including climate change, water and land use, as boundaries that represent crucial tipping points on which humanity’s existence depends. The documentary approaches the complex topic through a creative way with touching images and stories.  

After the film screening, the on-site and online participants had the chance to ask questions to both panelists, followed by a lively discussion facilitated by Maike Voss, Director of the Center for Planetary Health Policy. Prof. Rockström stressed that the global community cannot wait for a new era to arise. The current economic paradigm needs to be changed because it does not respond to the needs of a global transition towards sustainability within a safe operating space.  Furthermore, it is of utmost importance to integrate local communities and their knowledge into the transition to a sustainable future for the planet and all living beings. The knowledge required is already there, but it urgently needs to be translated into policies and actions. Tanja Gönner pointed out during her input the active role of GIZ and the Alliance to contribute to this goal.  

With the film screening, the Alliance aimed to sensitize various audiences for the concept of planetary boundaries and to amplify the discourse on the environmental limits of our planet and translating science into action. 

For further insights please have a look at the video documentation:

POSTPONED: Expert Talk on Radical Listening with Kinari Webb – Health In Harmony

New Date Coming Coon

Indigenous peoples make up just 5% of the world’s population, yet they manage 25% of the earth’s land and support 80% of the earth’s biodiversity. Tropical forest protection is key to lowering the Earth’s temperature by 1.5 degrees Celsius and meeting the pledge set forth by the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015. Appropriate mechanisms must be identified to create a trustworthy environment to listen, learn and understand the importance of being guided by Indigenous and local communities to be able to develop inclusive and effective lines of action for primary pandemic prevention. Radical Listening is an example of contextualizing the perspectives of rainforest communities as implemented by Health in Harmony.

Internationally coordinated and cooperative approaches to identify and reduce health risks from our distorted relationship with nature and wildlife must be inclusive and respectful of Indigenous knowledge systems and their communities needs and traditions.To create a platform to foster exchange, aiming to reduce the risk of future pandemics, the International Alliance against Health Risks in Wildlife Trade is cordially inviting you to the upcoming

Expert Talk with Kinari Webb

New Date will be announced soon.

By partnering with local organizations and governments, Health In Harmony works alongside 135,000 Indigenous, Traditional, and rainforest peoples, protecting over 8.8 million hectares of high-conservation value rainforest in Indonesia, Madagascar, and Brazil.

Kinari Web will explore how this approach relates to the Alliance’s work, what insights from Health in Harmony’s scientifically confirmed work should be included in regulatory frameworks, and what conclusions might be drawn for members of the Alliance.

About the speaker
Kinari Webb, MD, is the founder of Health In Harmony, an international nonprofit dedicated to reversing global heating, understanding that rainforests are essential for the survival of humanity, and a cofounder of Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI). Dr. Webb graduated from Yale University School of Medicine with honors and currently splits her time between Indonesia, international site assessments, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Her debut novel, Guardians of the Trees, was released in 2021.

About the Alliance
The International Alliance against Health Risks in Wildlife Trade serves as an inclusive and interdisciplinary platform to discuss challenges and formulate solutions vis-á-vis human-wildlife interfaces and associated health risks and the emergence and spread of zoonotic pathogens from wildlife. The Alliance is aiming to enhance international and national awareness, knowledge, policies and action, not least by narrowing the gap between science and implementation.

We are very much looking forward to jointly learning from Kinari Webbs findings. Please feel free to forward and share this invitation (PDF attached) with interested colleagues.

Expert Talk on how wildlife movement data could help in preventing the spread of infectious diseases with Martin Wikelski

August 23rd at 14:00 – 15:15 CEST

About this Event

Identifying and reducing human health risks from wildlife trade within a One Health framework needs an internationally coordinated and cooperative approach. Preventing future pandemic outbreaks will need to also address health risks in dealing with wildlife trade, contact and potential spillover, and thus prevention at the source. To create a platform to foster exchange, aiming to reduce the risk of future pandemics, the International Alliance against Health Risks in Wildlife Trade is cordially inviting you to the upcoming

As the founding Director of the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior and Professor in Biology at the University of Konstanz, Prof. Dr. Martin Wikelski investigates global animal movement with the goal of creating an intelligent sensor network of animals—the “Internet of Animals”—and protecting animals worldwide. He has pioneered a system for continuously tracking thousands of animals from space, ICARUS, and in doing so has opened up a frontier in harnessing animal observation as a tool for conservation and more effective management of and response to health risks. Martin Wikelski will share some of the latest data on animal movement around the planet. He will highlight how this helps us to preserve biodiversity, to secure our global food supplies, to anticipate pandemics and potentially to predict natural disasters. Previously, he worked at, among others, University of Washington, Seattle, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and Princeton University.

CLOSED – Call for Proposals

Dear members*,

we invite you to significantly contribute to the goals** of the “International Alliance against Health Risks in Wildlife Trade”, and submit a project outline to apply for funding, utilising your expertise, understanding of the underlying challenges, state-of-the art knowledge of existing evidence and ideas for moving forward. Project outlines will have to be submitted by May 16th 2022, end of day CEST.

In terms of specifics, we are inviting proposals on two distinct TOPICs: 

TOPIC A 
Using social innovation to move towards the Alliance’s goals. This will involve piloting new approaches and thinking out of the box based on well-founded hypotheses, while tolerating higher risks of failure to achieve intended results and impacts.

TOPIC B 
Translating scientific evidence into policy and regulation towards the Alliance’s goals. This will include interdisciplinary work, putting policy and regulatory considerations centre stage, while understanding how best to factor in aspects of behaviour and incentives when translating science into policy. 

And two different FORMATs: 

FORMAT A 
Your proposed project works as stand-alone, to be realised by a consortium already assembled.

FORMAT B 
Your proposal covers only part of a larger envisioned project; it includes an outline to what additional complementary expertise/ competence/ infrastructure/ equipment you are seeking to include in the overall proposal.

By May 31st 2022, a limited number of outlines will be selected to move forward, requesting further elaboration of final full proposals.

Please find detailed information and the application template to download here.

*Note that participation requirements are linked to a membership in the Alliance. Only members of the Alliance have the right to apply for the call. If you have any further questions, also on the process of how to become a member, please do not hesitate to contact us.

**The members of Alliance are committed to unite resources to achieve the following goals:  

  • Substantially reducing the risks of zoonotic spillover and stepping up responses (including behavioral changes) to human and animal health risks caused by direct and indirect contact with wildlife and their products along the wildlife trade chain.
  • Enhancing international and national awareness, knowledge, and policies with regards to the first goal, thus narrowing the gap between science and implementation 

Recording: Expert Talk with Nicole Redvers

April 28th 2022 at 16:00 – 17:30 CEST

About this Event

Identifying and reducing human health risks from wildlife trade needs an internationally coordinated and cooperative approach. To this end, the International Alliance against Health Risks in Wildlife Trade serves as an inclusive and interdisciplinary platform to discuss challenges and formulate solutions vis-á-vis human-wildlife interfaces and associated health risks. In order to prevent future pandemic outbreaks there is the urge of shifting actions towards a more long-term perspective rather than only focussing on immediate crisis management. Thats why one major area will be to address health risks in dealing with wildlife trade to prevent potential spillover events at the source.

During this online session, Dr. Nicole Redvers provided insights on the wildlife contact and trade related discussion. She elaborated on inclusion of Indigenous Peoples and international protection mechanisms. These mechanisms need to be considered when developing and operationalizing processes that may affect Indigenous cultural identity, traditional knowledges, and practices as it pertains to wildlife subsistence. She also talked about potential implications within the One Health and greater Planetary Health approaches to deal with complex problems.

About the Speaker

Dr. Nicole Redvers, ND, MPH, is a member of the Deninu K’ue First Nation in Denendeh (NWT, Canada) and has worked with Indigenous patients, scholars, and communities around the globe her entire career. She is an assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine and the Department of Indigenous Health at the University of North Dakota where she helped developed and launch the first Indigenous health PhD program. Dr. Redvers is co-founder and current board chair of the Canadian charity the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation based in Yellowknife, NWT, providing traditional Indigenous-rooted Land-based wellness supports to northerners.  She has been actively involved at regional, national, and international levels promoting the inclusion of Indigenous perspectives in both human and planetary health research and practice. She is author of the trade paperback book titled, ‘The Science of the Sacred: Bridging Global Indigenous Medicine Systems and Modern Scientific Principles’.

Recording: Expert Talk with Catherine Machalaba

March 29th 2022 at 14:30 – 15:45 CEST

About this Event

Identifying and reducing human health risks from wildlife trade needs an internationally coordinated and cooperative approach. To this end, the International Alliance against Health Risks in Wildlife Trade serves as an inclusive and interdisciplinary platform to discuss challenges and formulate solutions vis-á-vis human-wildlife interfaces and associated health risks. In moving from immediate crisis management of the ongoing global pandemic towards a more long-term perspective, many have realized that preventing future pandemic outbreaks will need to also address health risks in dealing with wildlife trade and potential spillover, and thus prevention at the source.

During this online session Dr. Catherine Machalaba gave insights into how to operationalize One Health approaches for more coordinated, preventive, and cost-effective systems that promote human, animal, and environmental health given their integral links. She elaborated on entry points, trade-offs and co-benefits when designing effective policy options, including land use changes, wildlife trade and livestock management, and where to start as a feasible minimum that has to be done.

About the Speaker

Catherine Machalaba is the Principal Scientist for Health and Policy at EcoHealth Alliance. She was a lead author of the World Bank Operational Framework for Strengthening Human, Animal and Environmental Public Health Systems at their Interface (“One Health Operational Framework”) published in 2018 to assist countries and donor institutions in implementing One Health approaches. She is active in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), including serving for 10 years as Program Officer for its Species Survival Commission’s Wildlife Health Specialist Group. She is also a member of the One Health High-Level Expert Panel to the FAO, OIE, UNEP, and WHO (OHHLEP). She holds a master’s degree in public health and a PhD in environmental and planetary health sciences. 

This joint statement was published by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and World Health Organization (WHO) on 7th March 2022

As we enter the third year of the pandemic, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is spreading between people at an intense level globally. There are many factors that are driving transmission. One of these is the emergence of highly transmissible variants of concern, the latest being Omicron. The virus continues to evolve and the risk of future emergence of variants is high.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic is driven by human-to-human transmission, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is also known to infect animal species. Current knowledge indicates that wildlife does not play a significant role in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in humans, but spread in animal populations can affect the health of these populations and may facilitate the emergence of new virus variants.

In addition to domestic animals, free-ranging, captive or farmed wild animals such as big cats, minks, ferrets, North American white-tailed deer and great apes have thus far been observed to be infected with SARS-CoV-2. To date, farmed mink and pet hamsters have been shown to be capable of infecting humans with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and a potential case of transmission between white-tailed deer and a human is currently under review.

The introduction of SARS-CoV-2 to wildlife could result in the establishment of animal reservoirs. For example, it has been reported that, approximately one-third of wild white-tailed deer in the United States of America have been infected with SARS-CoV-2, initially via several human-to-deer transmission events. The SARS-CoV-2 lineages detected in white-tailed deer have also been circulating in close-by human populations. White-tailed deer have been shown to shed virus and transmit it between each other.

FAO, OIE and WHO call on all countries to take steps to reduce the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission between humans and wildlife with the aim of reducing the risk of variant emergence and for protecting both humans and wildlife. We urge authorities to adopt relevant regulations and disseminate previously released recommendations by FAO, OIE and WHO to (1) people working in close contact with or handling wildlife, including hunters and butchers; and (2) the public.Personnel working closely with wildlife should be trained to implement measures that reduce the risk of transmission between people and between people and animals, using WHO advice on how to protect oneself and prevent the spread of COVID-19, and OIE and FAO guidelines on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and good hygiene practices around animals, including good hygiene practices for hunters and butchers.

Current evidence suggests that humans are not infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus by eating meat. However, hunters should not track animals that appear sick or harvest those that are found dead. Appropriate butchering and food preparing techniques, including proper hygiene practices, can limit transmission of coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2, and other zoonotic pathogens.

FAO, OIE and WHO stress that the public should be educated about contact with wildlife. Some wild animals may come close to human settlements and residential areas. As a general precaution, people should not approach or feed wild animals or touch or eat those that are orphaned, sick or found dead (including road kills). Instead, they should contact local wildlife authorities or a wildlife health professional.

It is also crucial to safely dispose of uneaten food, masks, tissues, and any other human waste to avoid attracting wildlife, especially to urban areas and, if possible, keep domestic animals away from wildlife and their droppings.

We furthermore encourage countries’ national animal and human health services to adopt the following measures:

  • Encourage collaboration between national veterinary services and national wildlife authorities, whose partnership is key to promoting animal health and safeguarding human and environmental health.
  • Promote monitoring of wildlife and encourage sampling of wild animals known to be potentially susceptible to SARS-CoV-2.
  • Share all genetic sequence data from animal surveillance studies through publicly available databases.
  • Report confirmed animal cases of SARS-CoV-2 to the OIE through the World Animal Health Information System (OIE-WAHIS).
  • Craft messages about SARS-CoV-2 in animals with care so that inaccurate public perceptions do not negatively impact conservation efforts. No animal found to be infected with SARS-CoV-2 should be abandoned, rejected, or killed without providing justification from a country- or event-specific risk assessment.
  • Suspend the sale of captured live wild mammals in food markets as an emergency measure

Our organizations emphasize the importance of monitoring mammalian wildlife populations for SARS-CoV-2 infection, reporting results to National Veterinary Services (who report these findings to the OIE) and sharing genomic sequencing data on publicly available databases. Countries should also adopt precautions to reduce the risk of establishment of animal reservoirs and potential acceleration of virus evolution in novel hosts, which could lead to the emergence of new SARS-CoV-2 variants. Such measures will preserve the health of precious wildlife as well as humans.

We invite governments and other stakeholders to bring the contents of this joint statement to the attention of competent authorities and all parties concerned.

OIE Webinar “Global Wildlife Health”

Thursday, March 3rd 2022

World Wildlife Day aims to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants. In 2022, the OIE will organize a webinar across five regions and in twelve different time zones, connecting wildlife health stakeholders globally. The webinar will be held in two sessions—eastern hemisphere and western hemisphere—and the three official OIE languages (English, French and Spanish).

The OIE is addressing challenges involving wildlife health through implementation of the OIE Wildlife Health Framework. They look to the global community to protect wildlife health to achieve One Health. Towards this goal, the OIE Regional Representation in Asia and the Pacific, in association with the OIE Sub-Regional Representation for Eastern Africa and the OIE Regional Representation for the Americas, are organizing a webinar on “Global wildlife health” on World Wildlife Day in 2022.

OIE invites you to join the event, which will take place on Zoom® with livestreaming on YouTube®. Active participation from the live audience is encouraged.

Thursday 3 March 2022

  • Session 1 (in English and French)
    at 2am Buenos Aires / 6am Paris / 8am Nairobi / 2pm Tokyo  
  • Session 2 (in English, French and Spanish)
    at 11am Buenos Aires / 3pm Paris / 5pm Nairobi / 11pm Tokyo 

Participation

The event is open for participants globally. The target audience will be multi-sectoral participants with an interest in wildlife health. OIE particularly invites university students and young professionals to join the webinar. 

Agenda

Welcome            Dr Lesa Thompson, OIE Regional Representation for Asia and the Pacific, Tokyo

Opening remarks             Special guest speaker

Spotlight on the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)        [Chair: Lesa Thompson]

  • Current and future OIE activities on wildlife
    Dr Keith Hamilton, Preparedness and Resilience Department, OIE headquarters, Paris
  • Global situation of wildlife disease surveillance
    Dr Mariana Delgado, Preparedness and Resilience Department, OIE headquarters, Paris
  • Early detection systems for wildlife
    Dr Yacinthe Guigma, EBO-SURSY, OIE Regional Representation for Africa, Bamako
  • Interactive session          Mentimeter® quiz & participant opinions

Wildlife health globe-trotting      [Chair: Patrick Bastiaensen]

  • Session introduction
    Dr Patrick Bastiaensen, OIE Sub-Regional Representation for Eastern Africa, Nairobi
  • Asia and the Pacific
    Dr Hirofumi Kugita, OIE Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, Tokyo
  • African swine fever in wild pigs in Asia and the Pacific
    Dr Brendan Cowled, Executive Consultant and Director, AusVet, Canberra
  • Middle East
    Dr Ghazi Yehia, OIE Regional Representative for the Middle East, Beirut
  • Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) in wildlife in the Middle East
    Dr Ahmad Al-Majali, Jordan University of Science and Technology, Al Ramtha, ‎Irbid‎
  • Europe
    Dr Budimir Plavsic, OIE Regional Representative for Europe, Moscow
  • Rabies in wildlife in Europe
    Dr. Maxim Sîrbu, National Food Safety Agency, Republic of Moldova, Chișinău

Break

  • Africa
    Dr Karim Tounkara, OIE Regional Representative for Africa, Bamako
  • Anthrax in wildlife in Africa
    Dr Augusta Kivunyza, Kitui County Veterinary Services, Kenya Zoonotic Diseases Unit, Nairobi
  • Americas
    Dr Luis Barcos, OIE Regional Representative for the Americas, Buenos Aires
  • White nose syndrome in the Americas
    Dr Jordi Segers, Scientific Coordinator Bats, Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative, Halifax

Ecosystem health and biodiversity     [Chair: Maria-Eugenia Chimenti]

  • Ecosystem health for biodiversity
    Dr Marcela Uhart, University of California Davis, OIE Working Group for Wildlife, Davis
  • Interactive session          Mentimeter® participant opinions & questions for speakers

Closing remarks               Dr Monique Eloit, OIE Director General, OIE headquarters, Paris

Close     Dr Maria-Eugenia Chimenti, OIE Regional Representation for the Americas, Buenos Aires

WILDLIFE DISEASE RISK ANALYSIS: ONLINE TRAINING COURSE

7 March – 29 April 2022

Applications are open for the Wildlife Disease Risk Analysis online training course developed by the IUCN SSC Conservation Planning Specialist Group (CPSG). In situations where disease is a direct threat to wildlife species conservation, or wildlife are implicated as a vector or reservoir of disease impacting domestic animals and/or people, a Wildlife Disease Risk Analysis can help decision-makers determine how best to respond. A structured Wildlife Disease Risk Analysis presents an opportunity for multiple stakeholders with varied interests to develop collaborative plans that benefit all those involved and ensure the conservation of threatened wildlife species. The course has been designed to equip participants with an understanding of how to put the IUCN Guidelines for Wildlife Disease Risk Analysis into practice.

More information about the course and course application materials can be found here.

Registration closes on 18 February.