World Health Summit

Minister Müller announces creation of a new One Health priority area at the BMZ

Some 30 million euros from the Emergency COVID-19 Support Programme are to be used for targeted pandemic prevention and international cooperation.

Participants at the World Health Summit, which was held in digital form

Press release of 27.10.2020 |

BERLIN – Today's focus at the World Health Summit is on new strategies to fight COVID-19 worldwide. This topic will be discussed by Prof. Drosten (Charité Berlin), WHO Director-General Tedros, Prof. Mettenleiter (Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut, Federal Research Institute for Animal Health), BMZ health ambassador Dr von Hirschhausen and Parliamentary State Secretary Maria Flachsbarth and others.

Minister Müller said, "we will massively expand the priority area One Health and pandemic prevention because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Parliamentary State Secretary Maria Flachsbarth will coordinate our international cooperation as the BMZ's Commissioner for global health and One Health. In a first step we are investing 30 million euros from our global Emergency COVID-19 Support Programme into the One Health approach. This funding will be used to set up a first One Health pandemic centre in Kenya to promote knowledge sharing on human and animal health. And we are strengthening food safety and early detection of zoonoses in food production together with the World Bank. This is an urgent matter, virologists have identified at least 40 more viruses with the potential to cause a pandemic. As it is, as many as 2.7 million people are dying from zoonotic diseases every year. These include Ebola, AIDS, avian flu and COVID-19."

Climate change, increasing mobility, human encroachment into formerly pristine habitats, industrial agriculture and intensive livestock farming are factors that allow pathogens – both old and new – to spread more rapidly. The COVID-19 pandemic is demonstrating how the local outbreak of a disease emerged from an animal source quickly turned into a global threat.

Parliamentary State Secretary Maria Flachsbarth stated that "the situation is extremely challenging worldwide – more than 43 million people have contracted COVID-19, more than 1.1 million people have died. We need to find better solutions and strengthen the One Health triad of human health, animal health and a healthy environment. And, COVID-19 will not be the last pandemic. The one lesson we have to learn from COVID-19 is that the international community needs to work together more closely in future to fight a pandemic, develop diagnostics, vaccines and drugs, and prevent pandemics in the future. That is why we have set up a new One Health Directorate to fight pandemics; it will enable us to integrate our projects more closely with each other and get new initiatives off the ground – on human and animal health, healthy food and agriculture, access to safe drinking water and protecting biodiversity."

Prof. Thomas C. Mettenleiter of the Federal Research Institute on Animal Health (FLI) stated: "The current pandemic is a reminder of the importance of One Health. The pathogen originated in animals, spilled over to humans and is transmitted back to animals. Three quarters of newly emerged human infectious diseases originate in animals. This is where the One Health approach comes in to reduce risky contacts between animals and humans. One Health is a cross-sectoral holistic approach that recognises the links between the health of people, animals and the environment. Antimicrobial resistance and zoonoses are two key topics that are addressed under the One Health approach."

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