Over 200 organizations from across the world have issued a letter urging the World Health Organization (WHO) to endorse a permanent ban on live wildlife markets and the use of wildlife in traditional medicine.
The organizations include World Animal Protection, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Humane Society International, Born Free and Wild Aid,
The letter highlights that with the suspected COVID-19 link to a wildlife market in China, WHO must take action to achieve its mission to serve public health at all times by recommending that governments worldwide permanently ban live wildlife markets and the use of wildlife in traditional medicine.
" While a robust global response is critical in detecting, treating and reducing transmission of COVID-19, it is equally necessary to take vital measures to prevent similar emerging infectious diseases developing into pandemics with the associated threats to human life, and social and economic well-being," reads part of the letter.
Sixty per cent of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic, meaning they originate from animals, with 70 per cent of this thought to originate from wild animals.
Speaking about the letter, Edith Kabesiime, a Wildlife Campaign Manager at World Animal Protection said they commend WHO for the efforts to contain the spread of the novel Coronavirus.
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" Given the fact that this pandemic is believed to have originated at a wildlife market, we're calling on WHO to unequivocally state the proven link between these markets and the serious threats they can cause to human health," she said.
According to her, WHO can help prevent future pandemics by excluding the use of wildlife from their endorsement of traditional medicine.
"This could help save lives in the future and help protect millions of wild animals that are unnecessarily and cruelly farmed or poached from the wild to supply this industry. Plant based alternatives are recognised and available," says Ms Kabesiime
And just like Ms Kabesiime, other stake holders maintain that a ban on wildlife markets is urgently needed, to prevent the unregulated and unhygienic conditions and the close proximity between humans and animals, providing the perfect opportunity for pathogens to spread.
This risk is further exacerbated by the cruel conditions in which animals are typically farmed or collected from the wild, transported to and held at such markets.
This inevitably results in large numbers of different species being held in close proximity, causing immense stress and weakening of their immune systems.