Implement safety policies to protect citizens, advise expertsPublic health experts have warned that zoonotic diseases could reach pandemic proportions if there are no effective disease control measures in place.
Public health experts have warned that zoonotic diseases could reach pandemic proportions if there are no effective disease control measures in place.
A zoonotic disease is a disease spread between animals and people. Zoonotic diseases can be caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi.
Presenting their research at a workshop in the Capital over the past week, the experts urged policymakers and public to implement health safety policies and standard practices that protect the citizens, wildlife and environment in Nepal, Asia and across the globe.
The three-day workshop on Zoonotic Disease Pandemic Preparedness for South Asia, using One Health Platform, organised over the past week, attracted more than 100 participants, including scientists, researchers from governmental and non-governmental organisations and academicians from the United States, India, Bhutan and Bangladesh.
The international event—convened by the Centre for Molecular Dynamics Nepal (CMDN) in collaboration with the PREDICT project (One Health Institute, University of California Davis) and EcoHealth Alliance (USA)—came hot on the heels of the recent outbreaks of bird flu around Nepal.
Highly-contagious avian influenza virus was identified in February in birds found in a recreational park.
Additionally, a new strain of the virus, H5N8, was detected for the first time in Nepal in several farms that supply poultry products. Discovery of these outbreaks prompted a temporary ban on the trade and transport of chickens and ducks. Thousands of birds were slaughtered to halt further spread of the virus. These outbreaks are not only a threat to public health, but they also cause devastating economic loss to farmers.
The participants shared information on ways to prevent the spread of infectious disease between animals and humans.
The workshop also presented One Health status updates in South Asian countries. While presenting existing pandemic preparedness programmes, key stakeholders in public and private sectors identified their roles and responsibilities for effective communication and coordination during an outbreak and highlighted gaps in current programmes.
“Breaking silos between human and animal health coordination by engaging governmental and non-governmental organisations is crucial in implementing effective One Health initiatives,” the CMDN said in a statement.
“However, experiences from the region—India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal, revealed gaps in effective coordination mechanism between human, animal
and environmental health agencies.”
Recognising the importance of research on emerging and re-emerging diseases in the region, Health Minister Gagan Thapa reiterated the government’s commitment towards supporting such efforts.