Africa faces a growing threat from zoonotic diseases such as monkeypox, the WHO said Thursday, with the continent recording a 63-percent rise in such outbreaks over the past decade.
A World Health Organization (WHO) analysis found 1,843 “public health events”, such as disease outbreaks, in Africa between 2001 and 2022.
Thirty percent of those events were outbreaks of diseases spread to humans by animals, which are known as zoonotic diseases.
Ebola is included among these diseases, for example, as well as dengue fever, anthrax, plague and monkeypox.
Africa has seen a 63-percent rise in zoonotic disease outbreaks over the past decade in comparison to the 2001-2011 period, the WHO said in a statement.
WHO’s Africa director Matshidiso Moeti was quoted in the statement as saying that poor transport infrastructure had once limited mass zoonotic infections on the continent.
But Africa could become a “hotspot for emerging infectious diseases,” she warned, as improved transport links raise the threat of zoonotic pathogens travelling to cities.
Moeti urged researchers with different specialities to collaborate closely to stem zoonotic diseases. “Only when we break down the walls between disciplines can we tackle all aspects of the response,” she said.
Scientists have frequently sounded the alarm about the risk from animal-born diseases, especially as growing human populations come into closer contact with wild species through hunting or habitat loss.
The period covered by the analysis included the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The novel coronavirus emerged in China from a suspected animal source before becoming classified as a human disease as it spread.