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COP14 Calls For Intervention to Curb Global Bird Flu Threat :: Uganda Radionetwork
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COP14 Calls For Intervention to Curb Global Bird Flu Threat

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The suggestion comes after a warning by the World Health Organisation -WHO that the recent surge in bird flu outbreaks among mammals could help the virus spread easily among humans. The world has since 2021 had a surge in the of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N or bird flu which led to the death of wild birds and poultry and incidental infections in mammals.
14 Feb 2024 14:13
Avian Influenza virus strains have periodically spilled over into humans.

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The need for the Convention on Migratory Species(CMS) to play a role in health, especially in ending pandemics like COVID-19 and bird flu has come as delegates meet in Uzbekistan.

The suggestion comes after a warning by the World Health Organisation -WHO that the recent surge in bird flu outbreaks among mammals could help the virus spread easily among humans. The world has since 2021 had a surge in the of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N or bird flu which led to the death of wild birds and poultry and incidental infections in mammals.

Avian influenza viruses normally spread among birds, but the increasing number of H5N1 avian influenza detections among mammals-which are biologically closer to humans than birds has raised concern.

Armed with fresh scientific evidence about this virus, delegates say a situation similar to what was witnessed during COVID-19 should happen. They are calling for a new instrument for CMS to engage with the World Health Organization (WHO) for the prevention of future outbreaks of diseases of zoonotic nature.

The instrument should also guide pandemic preparedness and response. In July 2023, the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Co-Convened a Scientific Task Force on Avian Influenza and Wild Bird. 

Since 2021 southern Africa (specifically Namibia and South Africa) has reported extensive mortality due to HPAI of African Penguins. Scientists note that other regions including East Africa could be affected too.

The extent and scale of outbreaks have significant conservation consequences for multiple species. Globally threatened species that have been affected include several crane species. Scientific papers presented at the conference indicated that the current crisis is set to continue. 

They are suggesting more specific responses to this conservation, livestock, and human health threat. Egypt is one of the countries at the conference that has called for urgent interventions to stop a crisis similar to that caused by the COVID-19 virus that brought the entire world to its knees

“We need to look at emerging issues over the last few years. The issue of COVID-19 has led to many complications not just in terms of the disease but how companies played a dirty game with very many countries. It was not only costly but we lost very many lives”  said a delegate from Egypt.

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One Health Approach  

Various countries in a meeting chaired by Colin Galbraith from the United Kingdom supported the idea of one health approach in responding to outbreaks of diseases either in wildlife or humans. 'One Health' is an integrated, unifying approach to balance and optimize the health ofpeople, animals, and the environment.

The EU  and its member states backed Egypt and others in the call for one health approach.

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The Food and Agricultural Organization has observed that the issue of the interaction of pathogens between wildlife, livestock, and humans or zoonotic diseases has come up in many bodies including the International Union For Conservation of Nature (IUCN).  

The FAO emphasized the need for parties and others to come together and minimize the transmission of infectious diseases to wildlife, and to humans. Uganda is considered a 'hot spot' for emerging and re-emerging infectious disease epidemics.

At the Conference, Uganda is behind the call for a new instrument of pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. Uganda has emphasized the need for capacity building in the use of the tool.