The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) recently released a brief that provides strategies to promote human, animal, and environmental health through livestock systems. By investing in these initiatives, ILRI argues that governments, investors, and policymakers can prevent the rise of future zoonotic pandemics and develop resilient food systems.

Zoonotic diseases, also known as zoonoses, can be transmitted between animals and humans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, three out of every four new or emerging infectious diseases in people stem from wild and domestic animals. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that zoonotic diseases account for 1 billion infections and millions of deaths globally. Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute reports that these diseases are only increasing in frequency and severity.

“As we saw with the COVID-19 pandemic, health vulnerabilities and threats in one part of the world can quickly spread and impact the entire global population,” says Jimmy Smith, director general at ILRI, in a press release.

The One Health report names 18 key ways to optimize livestock systems in developing countries. The agenda strives to address the intersectionality of animal, human, and environmental health and wellbeing.

To protect all three domains, One Health’s team of experts focus on seven key areas in the Global South: controlling antimicrobial use, reducing human disease, collaborating between sectors, using gender-sensitive approaches, managing livestock-nature interfaces, maintaining livestock health and welfare, and ensuring food safety. The agenda is tailored towards low-and middle-income-countries where livestock are valuable assets to vulnerable communities.

This report comes in anticipation of the international treaty on pandemic prevention and preparedness. Within the WHO, an intergovernmental negotiating body is convening to form an international agreement on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. As the brief outlines, zoonotic diseases are central to the discussion of public health, and their prevention should be prioritized.

Read the full article about investing in livestock by Julia Agostino at Food Tank.