Pandemics Like COVID-19 Will Occur More Due to Habitat Loss: UN

2 min read
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The recent rise in zoonotic diseases is a result of ravaged habitats, unsustainable farming practices and climate change, according to a new United Nations report.

Diseases like Ebola, MERS, HIV/AIDS and West Nile virus are some of the zoonotic diseases that have arisen due to humans invading animal habitats, according to UN Environment Program report 'Preventing the Next Pandemic.'

The report warns that these diseases will continue to invade humans if we don't cease these practices.

“We have intensified agriculture, expanded infrastructure and extracted resources at the expense of our wild spaces.”
Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP quoted as saying in the report.

Andersen mentions how increased investment in the study of zoonotic diseases can benefit the world get "ahead of the game" and further in "preventing the type of global shutdown" that's resulted from the coronavirus pandemic.

“The science is clear that if we keep exploiting wildlife and destroying our ecosystems, then we can expect to see a steady stream of these diseases jumping from animals to humans in the years ahead.”

The reports sets out some practical guidelines that can support policy makers to check and respond to future disease outbreaks.

It asks states to reconsider adopting a coordinated "One Health" plan that regulates the efforts of public health, veterinary and environmental specialists in fighting zoonotic disease outbreaks in the future.

The report also highlights the increasing demand for animal meat, which has seen a rise of 260 percent in the past 50 years. Some animals, such as rodents, bats, carnivores, and nonhuman primates, are most prone to refuge zoonotic diseases, with cattle acting as a bridge for transmission within the animal hosts and humans, according to the release.

“People look back to the influenza pandemic of 1918–1919 and think that such disease outbreaks only happen once in a century.”
Maarten Kappelle, the head of scientific assessments at UNEP.

She further adds, but that's no longer accurate. If we don't take this initiative to restore the balance between the natural world and the human one, these outbreaks will become increasingly prevalent.

Earlier, the agency's Secretary-General António Guterres said, "To prevent future outbreaks, countries need to conserve wild habitats, promote sustainable agriculture, strengthen food safety standards, monitor and regulate food markets, invest in technology to identify risks, and curb the illegal trade in wildlife."

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Topics:  Ebola Outbreak   animals   Diseases 

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