What is prevention at source?
All efforts to prevent the spillover of pathogens, and subsequent disease, from wildlife to humans or other animals, from happening in the first place.
Why is it so critical?
Pandemic prevention at source is the single most effective—and cost-effective—way to prevent pathogen spillover, limit suffering and loss of human life, avoid economic disruption, and mitigate climate change, biodiversity loss, and global inequities.
The science is clear that pandemics of zoonotic origin, such as COVID-19, are directly related to increased human/wildlife interfaces caused by:
Particularly the destruction of highly intact or high-integrity ecosystems, deforestation, and forest degradation
Commercial sale of wildlife
Specifically live or freshly killed wild birds and mammals for human consumption, in particular to urban venues, supplied from wildlife farms or wild-caught
A Multilateral Solution
In December 2021, the World Health Assembly agreed to launch a global process to draft and negotiate a convention, agreement or other international instrument under the Constitution of the World Health Organization to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. Efforts are well underway, with negotiations expected to begin in December 2022 and consensus text anticipated by March 2024.
While pandemic prevention is part of the instrument’s mandate, discussions have been largely skewed towards secondary prevention or early detection. Wildlife Conservation Society has been working with Member States and partner organizations to ensure that strong language on primary prevention, particularly prevention at source, is featured in the new instrument.