31 May 2021 – Between 24 May and 1 June 2021, government representatives virtually attend their annual World Health Assembly, the main decision-making body of the World Health Organisation (WHO). Today the majority of the Member States voted in favor of a decision to assess the benefits of developing a pandemic treaty. A working group will be commissioned by the World Health Assembly to prepare a report, which will be presented in November. Global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS welcomes this first step and stresses that a global pandemic treaty should prioritise prevention to avoid the enormous costs associated with responding to future pandemics.
Nina Jamal, Campaign Manager for Pandemics at FOUR PAWS:
“Today WHO Member States took an important step forward in the global fight against pandemics. FOUR PAWS welcomes the plans to explore the benefits of setting up a treaty especially if it focuses on pandemic prevention, instead of just preparedness and response. Preventing pandemics means tackling the root causes tied to our dysfunctional relationship with animals and nature. The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us all how interlinked animal welfare, human wellbeing and the environment are. Evidence shows that 75 per cent of emerging infectious diseases originate in animals, meaning they are zoonotic. If we fail to acknowledge the need to reverse the negative impacts of factory farming, commercial wildlife trade, the dog and cat meat trade or live animal markets, we soon might face yet another pandemic. This completely justifies the need to invest in a new universal instrument that would improve surveillance of pandemic risks, strengthen pandemic prevention, increase pandemic alert mechanisms, encourage research and innovation, and enhance pandemic response. The pandemic treaty should be developed in a collaborative process between the WHO, OIE (Organisation of Animal Health), FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) and UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme). Therefore, FOUR PAWS strongly urges all the nations to collaborate in line with a One Health – One Welfare approach and to embrace the pandemic treaty as a united measure in the fight against future pandemics and towards an end of animal suffering.