from awareness to collective action

SARS, MERS, Zika, Nipah, avian flu, Ebola, Covid-19: a reality is imposed on us, the number of diseases in the animal world has multiplied in the last two decades, reflecting the impact of biodiversity degradation. These epidemic episodes hide a fact that you need to be aware of: 75% of the new emerging infectious diseases affecting humans are of animal origin.

Crises, alarms and scientific data are piling up yet, in 2022, we are as vulnerable as in 2019 to zoonotic risks. The situation could also worsen as global warming will intensify this phenomenon. The scientific journal “Nature” recently pointed out that climate change and increased land use will multiply viral sharing between previously isolated species. In total, at least 15,000 cross-species viral transmissions could take place by 2070.

The continuation after the announcement

As health care professionals, we collectively wish to renew our approach to health issues and call upon the new Health Risk Anticipation Committee, which takes over from the Scientific Council, to address this topic. We need to build bridges between human health, animal health and the health of the environment. This is what the scientific community calls the “One Health” approach, a multidisciplinary, multisectoral and global approach to health. It now becomes urgent to give it greater reach and to recognize its fair value by taking it into account in the construction of our public health policies.

The stakes are high, as it requires a profound change in our habits and the way we work. This concerns prevention, surveillance, research, as well as training of health professionals, better integration of the veterinary sector and education. On this last point it will be essential to raise awareness among citizens and food, a daily concern, is a useful entry point to understand the impact of animal and environmental health on human health.

Global health, a “brilliant idea” that goes on

Among all these challenges, research seems to us to be a priority for tackling the next pandemics. One issue concerns us, that of the absence in Europe of a satisfactory model for funding research and the means of responding to the emerging diseases of tomorrow. However, it is a crucial question to be able to develop and produce new treatments, to establish diagnosis banks and vaccines for humans and animals on the diseases that will put our health at risk tomorrow.

Elsewhere, the argument advances. The United States has passed the Pasteur Act, a bill that proposes to fund the research and commercialization of new antibiotics to combat antibiotic resistance which is the cause of 1.27 million deaths in 2019 according to “The Lancet”. The proposed funding mechanism is original: providing a flat-rate compensation to laboratories that develop research projects against the most dangerous bacteria.

Charlotte Brives and Pablo Servigne: “We are not at war against viruses”

The introduction of such a funding model for One Health research, in particular for antibiotic resistance and zoonotic risks, is essential to ensure French and European health sovereignty. We are calling for a real revolution, at all levels. Because we need to think and act differently if we are to effectively build health responses to upcoming pandemics that risk accentuating global warming and preserving the world we live in.

The continuation after the announcement

Signatories:

  • Jean Louis HunaultPresident of the Union of Veterinary Medicines and Diagnostics Industry (SIMV);
  • Philip Lamoureuxmanaging director of the trade union Les Entreprises du Médicament (Leem);
  • Clarisse Lhoste President of MSD France
  • Erick LelouchePresident of Boehringer Ingelheim in France;
  • Daniel BeauchampGeneral Manager of MSD Animal Health.

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