The potential for novel animal pathogens to emerge and ‘spill over’ into humans continues to cause global concern. Professor Munir Iqbal, Head of the Avian Influenza Virus research group at The Pirbright Institute, is among the international experts that have formed The One Heath Poultry Hub, which was launched on 22 January 2019, in order to combat the increasing risk from diseases that spread from animals to humans, known as zoonoses.
The Hub’s focus on poultry is indicative of the significant challenges that avian influenza and antimicrobial resistant (AMR) diseases represent and the social impact that they have, especially as population growth drives increasing demand for poultry meat and egg production. By taking a ‘One Health’ approach the Hub recognises that human, animal and environmental health are inter-related, and so collaborative, interdisciplinary efforts in research, policy and management of zoonoses are needed.
Commenting on the launch of this enterprise Professor Munir Iqbal said: “I am excited to be part of the One Health Poultry Hub, which will create a network of collaborative research whose mission is aligned with that of The Pirbright Institute – to prevent and control diseases of livestock and those that spread from animals to humans.”
The interdisciplinary Hub is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) - which is a key component in delivering the UK AID strategy and puts UK-led research at the heart of efforts to tackle the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Among the goals of the Hub will be to address the rising demand for poultry meat and eggs in developing countries and endeavour to meet global demand for safe food production, while minimising risk to international public health.
The need for safe, sustainable poultry production is most urgent in South and Southeast Asia and the One Health Poultry Hub will work in Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Vietnam, as the nexus of a global network that involves 50 groups around the world comprising of partners in Asia, Australia, Europe and the UK.
“The links between all the groups involved will mean researchers are able to tap into different research and collaborations that will advance our understanding and efforts to prevent and control avian influenza and antimicrobial resistant diseases now and in the future” added Professor Iqbal.