On deforestation, the study found that investments between US$ 1.5 billion and US$ 9.6 billion could decrease deforestation at a rate that would reduce the risk of forest loss-related disease spillover by 40 percent in high-risk areas. One of the lead authors of the study, Lee Hannah, a biologist with Conservation International, said in a statement, “[o]verall, the study found that reducing deforestation could offer an additional annual savings of US$ 3.7 billion by reducing global greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating the damage they cause as climate change accelerates. In fact, investments in deforestation for disease control would actually offer a net gain when climate change benefits are taken into account, Hannah added. “To help prevent the next pandemic, it is crucial for countries and businesses to incentivize protecting forests rather than destroying them,” he said. “Not only is this good for public health, it will help slow climate change.”
Reducing Wildlife Trade
According to the study, wildlife markets and legal and illegal wildlife trade heighten the risk for spillover due to the consumption of bushmeat, poor sanitation in markets, unsafe transit conditions, and more. If we could increase the budgets for agencies responsible for enforcing laws on illegal wildlife trade up to $250-750 million per year, there would be a high return on the investment, the authors report. With more funding, these agencies could improve laws and enforcement of illegal trade of high-risk disease species such as primates, bats, and pangolins.
In order to detect viruses before they can spread we need to test humans and animals in areas with high disease emergence risk to decrease potential disease spillover and educate communities about zoonotic diseases to lower contact with wildlife that could lead to disease transfer. In addition, better education on water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) standards in these communities plus encouraging the use of personal protective equipment in areas at high risk of human-livestock contact, like at farms and in bat caves would provide huge benefits. Finally, improving the conditions of livestock on farms will contain the disease before the livestock is consumed by humans.