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Covid-19: 'Safeguard public health by taking care of animals'

Saman Haziq/Dubai
Filed on October 17, 2020 | Last updated on October 17, 2020 at 12.24 am

(FAO)

'It was estimated that by 2050, food systems would need to sustainably feed over nine billion people'

The world has seen how a zoonotic disease like Covid-19 could disrupt both public health and food security - it's high time changes in systems were made, experts have said at a recent virtual event.

Experts from the UAE, UN agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) came together for the webinar that sparked conversations about sustainable food systems, the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change.

Fatima AlMulla from the UAE Food and Security Office said: "Even before the start of the Covid outbreak, it was estimated that by 2050, food systems would need to sustainably feed over nine billion people. The pandemic has aggravated this precarious situation and what is now required now is for us to accelerate the transformation of our food systems- and see to it that zoonotic diseases don't spread."

Zoonotic diseases - like Covid-19 - are those that are passed from an animal or an insect to humans, she explained. With such emerging diseases, it sends a message that to avoid illnesses that affect humans, the world has to make sure that animals are in good health, too.

'One Health' approach

Held on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the UN and FAO, the national dialogue also saw participation of FAO representative in the UAE Dr Dino Francescutti.

Explaining FAO's 'One Health' approach, he said: "It's a method of recognising the connection between humans, animals, plants, and their shared environments in a very integrated way to reduce disease and also ensure safe food supply."

FAO senior livestock development officer Dr Markos Tibbo said 'One Health' is the idea that "the health of people is connected to the health of animals and our shared environment".

saman@khaleejtimes.com

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