Giving animal health
In 2021, the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH, founded as OIE) participated in several high-level forums where it advocated for improved animal health and investment in quality Veterinary Services worldwide.
Standing for animal health at the G20 summit
Addressing global health threats can only be effective by taking animal, human, and environmental health into account. WOAH called for this in 2021, as world leaders and ministers convened for the 16th G20 summit, hosted under the Italian Presidency.
In September 2021, ahead of the summit, we participated in the meeting of the G20 Health Ministers. The Director General of the Organisation, Monique Éloit, embraced the opportunity to reinforce the critical role of Veterinary Services in achieving One Health resilience and the need for their appropriate and sustainable financing. The One Health approach considers animal health, environmental health, and human health as interdependent.
At the 2021 G20 summit, we advocated for the inclusion of One Health capacities in the G20 recommendations for Public Health Officers. We also further emphasised the need for adequate support for Veterinary Services and the important role they serve as frontliners in the health workforce, as well as in pandemic prevention and preparedness.
An excellent example of a current health challenge which needs to be addressed under the One Health approach is antimicrobial resistance. While the Health Ministers called for a prudent use of antimicrobials in humans, animals, and plants, they also acknowledged the various intersectoral initiatives currently in place through the framework of the Tripartite Alliance (WHO, FAO, WOAH) and the UN Environment Programme. They welcomed the establishment of the Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance which became operational in January 2021. The Group consists of world leaders and experts from across sectors working together to accelerate political action on antimicrobial resistance and improve visibility of the subject among policy leaders.
Collaboration across sectors is critical for global health. United, we will better anticipate global health threats and work to control risks at the animal source.
Promoting animal health with our global partners
Throughout 2021, WOAH continued its high-level collaborative work as one of the four partner organisations of what is now the Quadripartite (formerly Tripartite), alongside the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
In May, a new One Health High-Level Expert Panel was launched to improve understanding of how diseases, with the potential to trigger pandemics, emerge and spread. This panel brings together diverse scientific expertise to advance the One Health agenda.
Key first steps included the development of a comprehensive definition of ‘One Health’. The new definition better shows how sectors, disciplines and society connect as a whole to the One Health concept through communication, collaboration, coordination, and capacity building. In this context, WOAH hopes to consolidate the vital role of animal health within the context of global health issues and promote collaboration between animal, public health, and environmental sectors.
of known human infectious diseases originate in animals
of emerging infectious diseases can pass from animals to humans
Because the majority of human infectious diseases originate in animals, promoting animal health on the world stage is key to preventing future pandemics.
Placing animal health at the centre of pandemic preparedness
The COVID-19 crisis has made it painfully clear: the world needs a global strategy on pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response. Global leaders have united, in 2021, in an urgent call for an international pandemic instrument that would protect our planet from future health crises. As the development of such framework is being discussed internationally, WOAH is ensuring that Veterinary Services and animal health management (including wildlife) are at the core of enhancing pandemic prevention and preparedness.
In 2021, the Organisation carried the voice of animal health through its participation in the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB), coordinated by the World Health Organization in support to the development of the pandemic instrument.
WOAH’s close involvement in these discussions also guarantees that the voices of its Members and Veterinary Services are well-represented. Our 182 Members were encouraged to mobilise their Health and Foreign affairs ministers as countries come together to prevent future crises.
By ensuring that the animal health component is included in future global discussions related to health challenges, we are contributing to building a healthier and more resilient future for all.