ACTAsia invited to speak at UN High Level Political Forum

Why was ACTAsia asked to speak? 

With nearly 30 years of international expedience in the fields of human well-being animal welfare veterinary education and environmental science Pei is recognised as an authority on issues related to China including political and social aspects. This includes the exploitation of wildlife and the implication for human and animal well-being through pandemics such as Covid 19. During recent months Pei has been in demand by the media and NGO’s to comment and advise on China’s response to the pandemics.     

What was the focus of the UN ‘HLPF’ Forum in 2021?

The HLPF 2021 met to discuss ways to ensure a sustainable and resilient recovery from COVID-19, putting us on track to realize the 2030 Agenda. This year’s theme focused on: “Sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that promotes the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development”. The side event covered the issues very much facing us in today’s world as the pandemic continues to rage worldwide.  Pei spoke about the global importance of recognising a global One Health approach. 

What was Pei’s message to the UN Forum?

Pei’s presentation was titled: A Global Comprehensive Approach to ‘One Health’ is the Pathway to Success.

Pei spoke about how frontline organisations can put a One Health model into everyday practice to benefit humans, animals and the environment. Also, as the current pandemic is in the forefront of our minds, regardless of where we live in the world, it demonstrates how our use of land and encroachment into wild ecosystems in one part of the world impacts us all and that prevention needs to be interdisciplinary and integral to national policies. 

What is the One Health approach that Pei spoke about? 

One Health is an approach to designing and implementing programmes, policies, legislation and research in which multiple sectors communicate and work together to achieve better public health outcomes. The areas of work in which a One Health approach is particularly relevant include food safety, the control of zoonoses which is very much of pivotal importance in today’s world. Zoonoses, or zoonotic diseases, is an infectious disease caused by a pathogen (an infectious agent, such as a bacterium, virus, parasite or prion) that has jumped from an animal (usually a vertebrate) to a human.

What are the root causes that need addressing to help combat potential zoonoses?

In China, the concept of animal welfare – which is integral to One Health – is in its infancy. Animal sentience and the interrelationship between humans and animals is not clearly understood, even by many local vets. This also applies to many other developing countries, where the mistreatment and abuse of animals is still largely caused through ignorance and indifference. It is vital that address the following root causes:

  • Recognise and understand animal sentience
  • Animal welfare relates to science not just sentimental feelings 
  • Throughout Asia there is a lack of comprehensive legislation to protect animals
  • The commercial use of wildlife both legal and illegal
  • Putting an end to factory farming for farm animals both wild and domesticated  

Why is educating Asian countries important in helping to combat pandemics?

Throughout Asia, there is a lack of comprehensive animal welfare legislation. In addition, Asia has historically been a hotspot for zoonotic disease. Most emerging zoonotic diseases often originate from the South and Southeast Asian sub regions; such as SARS in China in 2002, and Nipahvirus in Malaysia in 1999 & Bangladesh in 2001.

What ACTAsia is doing in the fight against zoonoses, promoting One Health and how education is the answer 

In 2009, ACTAsia, in collaboration with consultants from Vets for Compassion Australia, launched their first Train the Trainer workshops in Shenzhen and Beijing. The aim being to enable vets in China to understand animal sentience, animal welfare, zoonotic implications for humans and animals, develop skills and become part of a global One Health movement. The programme covers theory and practical techniques teaching ‘Gold Standard’. Now 12 years later, more than 1,000 vets from 10 provinces have received training, with 24 Trainers now certified. The proof of sustainability is evident as these Trainers continue to train other colleagues, collaborate with public health agencies, and give talks in schools.

The impact of ACTAsia’s Caring for Life Education programme in schools across China

For the past 15 years ACTAsia has been working in China implementing their Caring for Life Education and Training initiatives. These programmes promote the One Health concept working in collaboration with different stakeholders, at local, national, and global level. ACTAsia is delighted that their Caring for Life, Children’s Education programme (CFL), has recently been recognised as being ‘Good Practice’ by the UN Department of Economic & Social Affairs. CFL education for children is ACTAsia’s unique six-year curriculum for all primary school years. It encompasses social welfare and citizenship, animal welfare, and environmental issues, and recognises the interdependence of all living things.

Pei’s Conclusion and Promise to the UN Forum

Pei concluded that ACTAsia will continue to implement education and training initiatives, to help the veterinary profession in Asia develop their skills and understanding of the human–animal relationship. It is hoped that their influence and collaboration will positively influence others to promote One Health as a pathway – leading to global action.