By Branton Matondo
Animal and zootonic diseases prevalence have sky rocketed by a whopping 63 % as noted by the United Nations survey due to the alarming ailing of planetary healthy.
The world natural order has been for the past decade (2012-2022) flipped upside down by animal based viruses that have caused unimaginable human fatalities across the globe, the recent being Covid 19 (virus suspected to have mutated in Wuhans wet market) and monkey pox.
While conversing with social custodians and media practitioners on an online platform Senior External Affairs Manager at Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and also Co-Chair of the Global Health Security Roundtable (GHSR) Ashley Arabasadi highlighted that the past decade has seen a disturbing global rise in animal diseases that have mutated at much faster than before.
She said the chief cause for such an unfortunate turn of nature is due to the continued breaking of boundaries between animals and humans beings.
“What worries me the most is that there has been a 63% rise in the number of animal diseases breaching the species barrier from 2012 to 2022, as compared to the decade before (2001-2011), according to the UN Health Agency on July 16, 2022 and that’s scary. Climate change, urbanization and deforestation can all cause animals to come into closer contact with humans, ” said Arabasadi.
The planetary health expert added that leaders in global healthy and planetary protection have not yet realized the centrality of zootonic diseases in spreading pandemics.
“I think that most of those in leadership or with decision making ability have a limited understanding of the huge importance the role of zoonotic diseases have in causing pandemics. We are treating pandemic preparedness, prevention and response in a way that allows for when an spillover event has already occurred and not on stopping an outbreak from ever occurring.”
War, femine and climate change have changed the fabric of human and animal lifestyle. Hotspots for zootonic and animal disease have been highly prevalent in Africa and Asia due to increased interactions between animals and humans. Populations in Africa and Asia have expanded in the last decade with the latter contributing 60% of the worlds population.
Organisations like Health in Harmony have addressed climate change, human health, economy and environment in Asian countries, a clarion move that has motivated other nations to do likewise.
An inquiry on the successes brewed by Health in Harmony in Indonesia indicate villagers in rural areas received discounted health services and job training in exchange for reducing logging.
A decade into the program revealed that 21,000 hectares of forest has regrown. Infant mortality fell 67% in the population of about 100,000 people, and there are significant declines in malaria, tuberculosis, and diabetes.
Arabasadi urged media practitioners and journalists to address issues of global pandemics with educated caution.
She said priority should be channeled towards enlightening the public on the true whereabouts of zootonic diseases like monkey pox rather than spreading post truths.
“Well, we started on monkeypox and I think that even though it hasn’t yet impacted Zimbabwe we know that it easily could. We also know monkeypox is a zoonotic disease so to raise this issue as cautionary tale as to we must approach human health from a different perceptive could be really timely. We could also say that drought is impacting food security on the horn.”
Climate change captained by global warming has become a geo political issue. World health movements have lamented on the prevalence of animal diseases in the near future to due to mass migration.
Arabassadi encouraged journalists to tackle the intersection of the three (public health, food systems, climate change).
“Using the lens of food security and food systems is very interesting when talking about climate change and drivers of diseases,” said the American based planetary expert.