1 November 2021

G20 commit to One Heath, but fail to address animal health systems

This weekend’s G20 Summit culminated in the G20 Rome Leader’s Declaration. While leaders pledged to embrace the much-need One Health approach to prevent pandemics, the declaration doesn’t address the need for stronger animal health systems.

G20 leaders have pledged to prevent pandemics by tackling the risks emerging from the human-animal-environment interface, but we are only as strong as our weakest health system. One Health can’t be effectively implemented without strengthening animal health systems across the globe.

Klara Saville, Head of Global Animal Health and Welfare at Brooke

Last week, Brooke and the Action for Animal Health coalition penned an open letter urging G20 leaders to invest in animal health systems or risk future pandemics. Here is our full response to the Rome Declaration.

1. One Health must mean investment in animal health 

The new G20 joint Finance-Health Taskforce has committed to the One Health approach at global, national and local levels. This includes working on ways to establish a financing facility for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.

But to effectively implement One Health, governments must consult their ministries of agriculture and environment, as well as the animal health sector.  The financing facility needs to include funding for stronger animal health systems to truly prevent and respond to zoonotic diseases and infections.  

2. Better data and veterinary professionals key to disease surveillance 

The G20 has committed to enhancing global surveillance, early detection and early warning systems under the coordination of UN bodies.

Disease surveillance is only as strong as the data and information monitored. The G20 needs to address the capacity gaps in the veterinary workforce for stronger data and truly effective surveillance systems. Animal owners and farmers must be encouraged to report disease by being compensated should their animals be culled as part of disease control strategies.

3. Fight against antimicrobial resistance requires medicines and vaccines

The declaration pledges to ensure “prudent stewardship” of antimicrobials. But smarter use of antimicrobials requires widely available good quality veterinary medicines and vaccines administered by well-trained animal health professionals. The G20 must address the global shortage of these professionals, as well as the accessibility of medicines and vaccines.

4. Communities’ food security and livelihoods depend on animal health services 

There are numerous commitments to food security and nutrition, and improving livelihoods for smallholder and marginalised farmers. Many of these communities’ livelihoods depend on livestock and working animals. Animal health services must be improved at community level, including better access to animal health professionals, vaccines and medicines, and local surveillance systems.

Read the Action for Animal Health’s recommendations for governments and institutions.