The World Health Organisation (WHO), the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Organisation of Animal Health (OAH) have decided to set up an early warning system in order to spread awareness of zoonoses , or the diseases that are transmitted from animals to humans.
Such a system has become imperative since bird flu, SARS and mad cow disease are spreading with alarming frequency. "The spread of avian flu reinforces the fact that the animal and human health sectors must work closely together and that early detection and coordination is critical. This new network is an important step forward," said Susanne Weber-Mosdorf, WHO assistant director general.
Health experts say the warning system will help detect zoonotic outbreaks and prevent them. "Sharing of information, epidemiological analysis and joint field missions to assess and control outbreaks in animals and humans will lead to the development of improved coordinated response to emergencies worldwide," said Dr Samuel Jutzi, from the FAO.