WHO - World Health Organization

02/17/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/17/2021 03:29

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at 27th Tripartite Annual Executive Committee Meeting World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) - 17 February 2021

Dr Monique Eliot, Director-General of OIE,

Mr Qu Dongyu, Director-General of FAO,

Ms Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP,

Dear colleagues and friends,

First of all, I would like to thank Monique and the World Organisation for Animal Health for hosting today's meeting.

It could not come at a more important time.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a powerful demonstration that the health of humans, animals and ecosystems is intimately linked.

For many people, One Health may have once seemed simply a concept.

It is no longer.

We can only prevent future pandemics with an integrated One Health approach to public health, animal health and the environment we share.

Now is the time to take our partnership to a new level.

One Health must become more than a concept. It must be translated into systems at the local level that keep people safer.

Approximately 70% of all emerging and re-emerging pathogens are zoonotic, and we don't know when the next threat - the next disease X - will emerge.

It is clear, however, that One Health must be about more than zoonoses.

We cannot protect human health without considering the impact of human activities that disrupt ecosystems, encroach on habitats, and further drive climate change.

These activities include pollution, large-scale deforestation and extraction, the intensification of agriculture and livestock production, the overuse and misuse of antibiotics, and the way we produce, consume, and trade food.

WHO supports a greater One Health emphasis on connections to the environment, as set out in the WHO Manifesto for a healthy and green recovery from COVID-19.

Paradoxically, the COVID-19 pandemic is giving us a unique opportunity to drive real change.

One Health will be the focus of upcoming G7 and G20 meetings.

We need more science, better data and bolder policies across multiple sectors, with a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach.

Expectations for the Tripartite, and the need for effective collaboration, have never been higher.

The addition of the United Nations Environmental Programme to our group will provide much needed expertise and advocacy reach.

WHO supports making any needed modifications to the 2018 Memorandum of Understanding.

This year, we have also seen closer collaborative efforts at regional and country levels, and progress in our joint areas of work, including the launch of the United Against Rabies forum.

We continue to make progress in establishing the governance structures needed for curbing the threat of antimicrobial resistance.

The Global Leaders Group held its first meeting earlier this year, and today we will discuss how to expedite the establishment of the Independent Panel on Evidence for Action.

We are also strengthening our joint action through a five-year strategic framework and country-led results through the AMR Multi-Partner Trust Fund.

Finally, WHO will support the establishment of the One Health High Level Expert Council and is ready to host its secretariat, in collaboration with the members of the expanded Tripartite.

Central to the council's role will be advising our four organizations, once UNEP joins, on action priorities, and building consensus and collaboration.

We also need to ensure that all partner organisations have the resources to play this role jointly.

For our part, WHO will scale up investment in One Health and work through its disease programmes and initiatives, GOARN, Infosan and other technical networks, to engage partners to strengthen the One Health workforce for outbreak alert and response.

We are at a critical juncture. We must build on this momentum to strengthen the One Health approach, with public health and disease prevention as its central pillar.

Thank you once again to all of you for your partnership and leadership.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that we're stronger together.

Thank you, and I look forward to today's discussion.