The Economics of One Health
World Bank, Tuesday 3 July 2012

In 2010, the World Bank published the first volume of People, Pathogens, and Our Planet entitled Towards a One Health Approach for Controlling Zoonotic Diseases The World Bank has now released the second volume: The Economics of One Health (http://un-influenza.org/files/PeoplePathogensandOur%20Planet.pdf).

The report analyzes and assesses the benefits and the costs of control of an important group of contagious disease' and touches on food safety, but does not cover other risks and opportunities at the interfaces between humans, animals, and the ecosystem, such as food security and pollution'. It argues that the case for control of zoonotic diseases (zoonoses) is compelling', noting that the economic losses from six major outbreaks of highly fatal zoonoses between 1997 and 2009 amounted to at least US$80 billion' but that if these outbreaks had been prevented, the benefits of the avoided losses would have averaged $6.7 billion per year'.

The report is based on tentative assumptions (endorsed by the expert panel as "reasonable first assumptions") about the cost savings attributable to the introduction of One Health' and estimates that these savings would range from 10 to 15 percent of the total costs of a global surveillance and disease control system'. It notes that the annual funding needs to bring the major zoonotic disease prevention and control system in developing countries up to OIE and WHO standards--which are referred to as "One Health systems" in this report--range from US$1.9 billion to US$3.4 billion, depending on whether the risk of disease prevalence is low or high'. This cost is substantially below the average US$6.7 billion per year in losses due to the six major zoonotic disease outbreaks in 1997-2009, in particular considering that none of the disease outbreaks developed into a pandemic'.

The following recommendations emerge from the analysis in this report:

  • Countries should record and provide public access to their expenditures on public health services, preferably detailed by task (within prevention and control) across human and animal health sectors and for joint planning and communications, and by investment and recurrent costs. This work should be monitored by OIE and WHO and, when possible, be included in public expenditure reviews.
  • Because control of these zoonotic diseases is a global public good, constraints on prompt and complete reporting on disease outbreaks and control capacities should be addressed, through sets of positive (access to international funding) and negative (regulation) incentives.
  • The economic case for One Health approaches, and the qualitative evidence on benefits from closer collaboration at the animal-human-ecosystem interface, suggests future wider implementation. To this end, sustainable funding mechanisms that were described in Volume 1 of this report [Towards a One Health Approach for Controlling Zoonotic Diseases: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTARD/Resources/PPP_Web.pdf] will be required.
  • Governments and international agencies may wish to review the estimated costs of investments in One Health systems for pandemic prevention, compare them to the expected benefits, and suggest (to the World Bank or other stakeholders) what further analyses or actions are required to substantially increase expenditures on pandemic prevention.'
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