London, 26th November 2021 - Six major animal and human rights groups have written an Open Letter to Member State Governments of the World Health Organisation (WHO) to ensure that they vote for a Pandemic Treaty with focus on prevention at next week`s special session of the World Health Assembly.
This is only the second time in the history of the WHO that a special session has been called, the aim is to establish an agreement or other international instrument for global and aligned pandemic preparedness and response.
The letter outlines the urgent necessity for such a treaty, while stressing that the scope of the agreement must address the reasons behind the spill over of viruses and other pathogens from animals to humans in the first place and ensure measures to prevent them.
Josef Pfabigan, CEO of global animal welfare organisation, FOUR PAWS, who is one of the main signatories of the letter, said that “The time has come to greenlight a Pandemic Treaty. One which ensures that the central role of prevention and tackling the root causes of pandemics is acknowledged to protect not only human health but also the welfare animals and nature. We can no longer keep putting our heads in the sand given the events of the past 18 months. The Member States must seize this historic opportunity for a One Health – One Welfare approach to pandemic prevention.
“After COVID-19 we must reflect that there is an undeniable interdependence between humans, animals and the environment. Scientific studies show that 75 percent of infectious diseases are zoonoses, meaning they are of animal origin. The evidence is clear, and we now must connect the dots and implement a global coordinated plan to prevent such events occurring again.
“Going forward the scope of the Treaty must have animal welfare at the front and centre of its remit. Anything less than a paradigm shift in the way humankind treat animals will be a failure.”
In October of this year, FOUR PAWS published a Future Study on Pandemic Prevention which produced worrying conclusions. The study, highlighting findings from 29 renowned scientists, from various fields, sounded the alarm on continuing with business as usual. It also underscored the influence of animal welfare on pandemics such as COVID-19 is significantly underestimated - with the known dramatic consequences for human health.
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, 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.uk