The Australian Government has launched One Health, an $8.4 million initiative designed to boost Australia’s wildlife disease surveillance, investigation, and diagnostic activities.

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and the Department of Health has partnered with Wildlife Health Australia to deliver the initiative to strengthen our ability to prevent, detect, and respond to emerging diseases, including those with pandemic potential.

Dr. Mark Schipp, Australia’s Chief Veterinary Officer, said One Health has positioned Australia at the forefront of global efforts to prevent and detect future pandemic spill over events from wildlife.

“The initiative will also support early identification of threats to Australia’s domestic animals and livestock industries, as exotic diseases such as African swine fever (ASF) and foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) would involve feral animals in their emergence and spread.”

Emerging pathogens from wildlife are growing in significance as free-ranging wildlife populations become increasingly urbanised, resulting in greater overlap of usage of the environment, and closer direct and indirect contact with humans and domestic animals.

Dr. Rupert Woods, CEO of Wildlife Health Australia, said Wildlife Health Australia’s wildlife disease surveillance work would be strengthened by this initiative.

“This new program enhances our investigation of wildlife disease events, which is key to providing early warning of emerging disease risks in Australia, and protecting our native wildlife and ecosystems is critical to pandemic prevention.”