On May 4, 2021, during the UK G7 Presidency we welcomed Chief Veterinary Officers and experts from the USA, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, and EU Commission alongside delegates from guest countries Australia and India, and the OIE, to discuss veterinary services with respect to wildlife health. Although delegates from Japan were unfortunately unable to attend the meeting itself, we gratefully received contributions in advance of the meeting.
The UK set out wildlife health surveillance, effective intelligence sharing, and risk communication in participating countries as key themes for discussion, recognising their role in anticipating, preventing and mitigating the impacts of emerging and enzootic wildlife diseases to animal and public health and trade. Attendees were invited to share their best practice approaches and strengths, the objective being to learn from each other’s expertise and explore joint challenges.
Discussion included the following:
- Resource availability and sustainable funding was highlighted by several attendees as an overarching challenge. To target surveillance resource, the discussion expressed the utility of pursuing wildlife surveillance approaches, focussed on priority diseases, especially emerging diseases and those of zoonotic potential, in line with defined risk management objectives.
- Representatives promoted the development, strengthening and utilisation of existing structures (at all levels) to enable more cost-effective development of wildlife capabilities and avoid duplication. In this regard, there was an acknowledgement that new technology can be utilised to improve wildlife surveillance and actionable intelligence approaches.
- The advantages of a One Health approach, bringing together interdisciplinary expertise and policies, including stakeholders from public health, animal health, ecology and biodiversity, to prevent siloed working and avoid duplication, were highlighted throughout the discussion. Challenges around productively engaging all stakeholders can be mitigated by encouraging greater trust and pursuing partnerships that benefit all parties. Further, it was noted that to address data quality concerns it would be beneficial to set international standards.
- Attendees indicated a need to identify and remove potential barriers to enable better uptake of intelligence systems for wildlife disease. Encouraging further trust and collaboration amongst international partners would be beneficial to develop closer co-operation, intelligence sharing and co-ordinated action.
- There was agreement that risk communication benefits from a clear and targeted stakeholder approach to promote effective action. Discussion demonstrated the value in improving biosecurity communication with stakeholders at every level, leading to the mitigation of risks for disease transmission between wildlife, livestock and humans and encouraging better practices on the ground.
- The G7 CVO discussion identified several effective approaches, common challenges and possible future developments for veterinary services’ wildlife health capabilities. This draws out clear themes on resourcing, targeted approaches, development, collaboration, and effective communication. Recognising the value of such discussions to international discourse and cooperation, G7 CVOs and guests will continue to explore the development of veterinary services within their own country with respect to their ambitions regarding wildlife health, international trade, and Global Health Security.