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Africa: WHO Director-General’s Remarks At The 1st Virtual Meeting Of The One Health High Level Expert Panel – 17 May 2021

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Director — General Qu Dongyu,

Director-General Dr Monique Eloit,

Esteemed members of the panel, dear colleagues and friends,

Good morning, good afternoon and good evening. It is an honour to host this first meeting of the One Health High-Level Expert Panel.

I would like to thank the all the members of the panel and the governments of France and Germany for their leadership and support in establishing this panel.

Its creation fulfils a commitment made at the Paris Peace Forum last November.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every part of our societies and economies and highlighted the intimate links between the health of humans, animals and our planet, as my colleagues have said.

We can only keep the world safer with a “One Health” approach that embraces the interconnectedness of human health, animal health and environmental factors.

That includes the clear and urgent need to expand our understanding of what drives the emergence of new zoonotic pathogens, which account for 75 percent of emerging infectious diseases.

We know that human activities which encroach on wildlife can create opportunities for contact with previously unknown pathogens.

This is a particular risk when operating in new environments, for example when extracting resources or producing food.

But a truly One Health approach must go beyond zoonoses to encompass issues including deforestation, intensive agriculture, pollution, climate change and more.

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And as you know, despite progress in recent decades, gaps remain in our understanding of the complex processes that trigger the emergence of new diseases.

To address these gaps, we must establish more efficient and intelligent surveillance systems.

More than a decade ago WHO, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Organisation for Animal Health, came together as the tripartite to develop and promote the “One Health” concept.

Now we must take our partnership to a new level, bringing in the United Nations Environment Programme as an important new partner and translating this concept into systems that keep people safer.

The High-Level Expert Panel will lend critical support to this mission and I would like to thank every panelist again for agreeing to share your expertise with us.

I look forward to receiving your recommendations and advice in the months and years to come.

Working together, we can better prepare for and prevent future disease outbreaks, and build a healthier and more resilient world for all.

I thank you.

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