The global community faces limitations in its ability to prevent, detect, and respond efficiently to potentially deadly zoonotic microbes, such as H1N1 influenza virus, says a new report from the
Greater integration of the human health and veterinary medicine sectors should be a key feature of this new system because the lack of coordination and communication between these groups results in missed opportunities to detect potential species-crossing pathogens and leads to less effective measures to contain diseases. The report also recommends a fundamental shift in surveillance away from urgent, time-constrained reactions to individual diseases when they arise to a sustained focus on preventing the conditions for zoonotic agents to emerge and looking for signs of possible threats on an ongoing basis.
USAID should also lead an effort to identify sustainable funding sources to develop and maintain this new system. Funding for surveillance traditionally has focused on individual diseases with disproportionate resources aimed at infections in humans compared with those in animals. Moreover, development aid budgets tend to fluctuate with changes in leadership or priorities. The effort to find sustainable funding should specifically consider a tax on internationally traded meat and meat products as one possible mechanism, although the pros and cons of all options must be weighed to determine which funding sources will work best, the report notes.
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