Global Health Academy

Neglected Zoonoses - New report urges 'now is the time for action’

The WHO urges the global community to accelerate action against neglected zoonotic diseases as most of them can be controlled through existing knowledge and tools.

The 4th International meeting on the control of Neglected Zoonotic Diseases (NZDs) was held from 19th-20th November 2014 and was hosted by WHO, OIE, FAO Tripartite, ADVANZ, ICONZ

This meeting was part of a series of meetings on NZDs held at WHO headquarters. The first meeting in 2005, focused on gathering evidence and gaining an understanding of NZDs. Now 10 years later, substantial momentum and significant volumes of evidence have been gathered by the NZD community. There are now proven pathways for control and even eradication of certain NZDs. Thus in 2014 the focus moved 'From Advocacy to Action'

The goal of this meeting was to showcase successful One Health programmes from across the world and identify ways to achieve the NZD control milestones as specified in the WHO roadmap . As in previous meetings, One Health researchers and representatives from the animal and human health sectors worldwide came together to network and explore ways to extend current control interventions to new locations and to other NZDs. Health education and communication remain key tools for promoting awareness and advocacy around NZDs at all levels.

This report from the WHO entitled 'The Control of Neglected Zoonotic Diseases: from Advocacy to Action’ highlights the potential for intersectoral collaboration and discusses opportunities for innovative funding mechanisms to support control outside traditional donor models.

The international community must rise up and take responsibility in pushing ahead for the control and elimination of these neglected zoonotic diseases. These infections affect mainly poor segments of populations that interact closely with animals and our role should be to implement proven measures now that can contribute to the health and improved livelihood of affected families

Dr Bernadette Abela-RidderTeam Leader, Neglected Zoonotic Diseases, WHO Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases

WHO estimates that nearly two-thirds of all human pathogens originate from zoonoses, making it important to adopt a global 'one-health approach’ involving veterinary and human sectors to control and prevent zoonotic pathogens. The report highlights the potential for intersect oral collaboration, particularly at the subnational level, and calls for more work to be done.

Key messages from the report include:

  • Achieving a world free from dog-mediated human rabies by 2030 is feasible with current tools and increased investment, as demonstrated by recent rabies success stories.
  • However, other endemic zoonoses such as echinococcus have a low political profile, attract scant investment and are unlikely to achieve their 2020 target.
Parasitic Zoonoses
  • The NZD community is sufficiently 'tool ready' to commence control of fishbone trematodes and Taenia solium cysticercosis. Now it is time to evaluate and validate these integrated and cost-effective programmes so that strategies are put in place to achieve the WHO NTD roadmap targets.
  • Mongolia has successfully implemented programmes for brucellosis control through a 'One Health' approach, but experience also shows that diminishing financial resources could put human and animal lives at risk once again
  • The emergence of brucellosis during the current war in the Syrian Arab Republic has illustrated the importance of conflict as a driver for the emergence of such a disease as people rely more on their animals for sustenance.
Financing for NZDs
  • A paradigm shift is required from financing 'inputs' to financing ‘outcomes'
  • Greater funding innovation is required; for example Development Impact Bonds (DIBs) where the investment 'risk' is taken up by the private sector rather than the public purse.

It is our hope that this report will be the motivation to increase commitment towards actions to control NZDs.It is time to move 'From Advocacy to Action' and remove the 'n' from Neglected Zoonotic Diseases for good”

Professor Sue WelburnVice-Principal Global Access, University of Edinburgh