Experts call for global cooperation between health organisations to protect against public health crises
- Researchers including a Keele scientist have called for greater cooperation between human, animal, and environmental health organisations, to better prepare us for future pandemics.
- The “One Health” approach encourages these groups to work together to promote public health and prevent or prepare for health emergencies.
- The researchers analysed different countries’ responses to the Covid-19 pandemic, which they said had exposed weaknesses in the world’s global health security networks.
Weaknesses in global health security networks
The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed weaknesses in the world’s global health security networks, says a new four-paper Series published in The Lancet, and co-authored by a Keele University scientist.
The researchers call for greater investment in a ‘One Health’ approach to public health, which encourages human, animal, and environmental health organisations to work together to promote public health and prevent or prepare for health emergencies.
Billions of US dollars per year are required to make a real impact on prevention and preparedness globally – but this is only a small fraction of the cost of responding and recovering from a global health emergency like the Covid-19 pandemic.
Breaking free from power structures
A global analysis of current One Health Networks reveals gaps and disparities in geographic distribution and partnership structures, with more networks active and headquartered in Europe and North America than other regions.
The Series argues the One Health movement must break free from power structures centred in high-income countries to establish more equitable global networks that also serve communities most affected by emerging and existing health security threats.
The authors also call for One Health approaches to involve more environmental health and community organisations to better integrate environmental, wildlife and farming issues when addressing challenges relating to disease spill over and the threat of future pandemics.
“We are not well prepared to face a pandemic”
Dr Najmul Haider from Keele University, one of the Series’ authors, said: “We are not well prepared to face a pandemic and Covid-19 is a recent example. The Joint External Evaluation (JEE) and Global Health Security Index (GHSI) are two pandemic preparedness indexes. None considered the One Health angle of disease emergence or responded adequately.
“In the first phase of the Covid-19 pandemic (1 Jan –31 Dec 2020), countries with higher scores in these preparedness indices were among the countries with worst sufferers. Lessons learned from this pandemic must be incorporated in our next pandemic preparedness.”
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