Pandemics such as Covid 19 are likely to emerge in the future more often if the countries don’t take a “seismic shift” collectively in dealing with infectious diseases. These future pandemics can kill more people and cause much damage to the economics than the Covid 19 of today, warns international experts in a UN backed report.
The report was brought out as part of a workshop by the IPBES Bureau and Multidisciplinary Expert Panel (MEP). The experts points out to global environmental changes as an underlying cause of pandemics. The environmental changes include agricultural expansion, land-use change and wildlife trade and consumption.
They said that COVID-19 underscored both interconnectedness of the world community and rising threat posed by global inequality to health, wellbeing and security of the people. They warned of increased morbidity and mortality in developing countries because of economic constraints affecting the healthcare system. They also noted that developed countries that rely on global economies could also be affected.
Te experts also said that the risk of pandemics was increasing rapidly and more than five new diseases are seen to emerge every year. And one of them has the potential to spread and become pandemic, they noted.
The experts at the workshop also pointed out that the real impact of the pandemic on the global economy could be assessed only after the vaccines are fully deployed and the virus is contained.
They opined that pandemic risk could be lowered by promoting responsible consumption and reducing unsustainable consumption of commodities from emerging disease hotspots. It can be prevented by avoiding commodities from wildlife and wildlife derived products and also by reducing excessive consumption of meat from livestock production. It was also mentioned that conservation of protected areas and reducing unsustainable exploitation of high biodiversity regions would reduce the interface between wildlife livestock and human beings. This could lower the risk of future pandemics.
The experts note that several policy measures have to be adopted for escaping from the pandemic. They have called for a high-level intergovernmental council on pandemic prevention for providing policy relevant scientific information on emergence of diseases, predict high-risk areas, evaluate economic impact of potential pandemics and highlight research gaps. The coordination is also needed for designing framework and laying the groundwork for implementing the One Health approach. They called for integrating economic cost of pandemics into consumption, government policies, budgets and production. They also wanted to generate new green corporate or sovereign bonds and designing green economic recovery. Apart from this, the experts also wanted to develop and incorporate pandemic and emerging disease risk health impact assessments in and land use projects. The Report also wanted to build a new intergovernmental health and trade partnership between countries to reduce zoonotic disease risks.