Celebrating the World Day of Epidemic Preparedness – biodiversity as a key player in fighting new epidemic outbreaks

The International Day of Epidemic Preparedness on December 27 serves the purpose of creating awareness about epidemics.

Celebrating the World Day of Epidemic Preparedness – biodiversity as a key player in fighting new epidemic outbreaks

The truth is numerous epidemics have infected our societies throughout history. However, in late 2019, humanity experienced a “new normal” – we all went through a difficult and unforeseen period. A virus initially considered the flu spread worldwide, with the national and local authorities unable to contain the disease.

Within a few months, the death toll escalated. Finally, the virus was announced to be a pandemic that impacted millions of lives worldwide.

Since then, health scientists and experts have maximized their capacities to develop new vaccines and provide a better understanding and knowledge of this virus. But what if we were all better informed and prepared to handle pandemics?

The first-ever International Day of Epidemic Preparedness was held on December 27, 2020. The United Nations General Assembly called for the day to advocate the importance of preventing, detecting, and responding to infectious disease outbreaks. The United Nations highlighted the value of an integrated One Health approach that fosters the integration of human, animal, and planet health and environmental and other relevant sectors.

 

Biodiversity – the critical factor to understanding and preventing new epidemics and pandemics

Although the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic is still unclear, in general, the emergence of infectious diseases originates from wildlife. Therefore, understanding and protecting our biodiversity and natural ecosystems are essential to preventing emerging infectious diseases and epidemical outbreaks.

Tropical areas with high biodiversity have been identified as hotspots for the risk of the emergence of zoonotic pathogens. Due to biodiversity loss and the increasing human activities in these tropical hotspots, the circulation and transmission of pathogens are higher.

Also, the development of responsive surveillance systems is crucial to respond to zoonotic risks; thus, it is necessary to work on biodiversity conservation plans involving local communities. The BCOMING project acknowledges these challenges and aims to

“co-construct innovations with all stakeholders in biodiversity hotspots to reduce the risk of infectious disease emergence through biodiversity conservation and zoonotic disease surveillance.”

Our project integrates the principles of the One Health approach and Prezode initiative. It will conduct extensive fieldwork to understand and analyze pathogens in three continents Southeast Asia, West Africa, and the Caribbean.

The key project outcomes are the creation of:

  1. innovative forecasting tools for prevention
  2. better disease surveillance systems
  3. better informed local communities and stakeholders
  4. more inclusive biodiversity conservation strategy on the risk of disease emergence

 

Do you want to fight with us?

COVID-19 is not the first and will not be the last virus to cause an outbreak. Therefore, it’s better to be prepared for the next one! If you believe awareness and preparedness are essential, celebrate the day with excitement and spread the message as we do!

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#EpidemicPreparedness #OneHealth

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