New York: UN experts have warned that, Zoonotic diseases, which jump from animals to humans – are increasing and will continue to do so without action to protect wildlife and preserve the environment.
They blame the rise in diseases such as Covid-19 on high demand for animal protein, unsustainable agricultural practices and climate change.
Neglected zoonotic diseases kill two million people a year, they say.
Covid-19 is set to cost the global economy $9tn (£7.2tn) over two years.
According to the report by the United Nations Environment Programme and the International Livestock Research Institute, by the degradation of our natural environment – for example through land degradation, wildlife exploitation, resource extraction and climate change. This alters the way animals and humans interact.
“In the last century we have seen at least six major outbreaks of novel coronaviruses,” said Inger Andersen, under-secretary general and executive director of the UN Environment Programme.
She said that “two million people in low- and middle-income countries die each year from neglected endemic zoonotic diseases – such as anthrax, bovine tuberculosis and rabies”.
“These are often communities with complex development problems, high dependence on livestock and proximity to wildlife.”
The report offers governments strategies on how to prevent future outbreaks, such as incentivizing sustainable land management, improving biodiversity and investing in scientific research.