Asean-SAN- making science central to policy-making

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Governments worldwide have adequately prioritized strong frontline pandemic response systems during the Covid-19 crisis, ensuring timely access to assistance for those who contract the virus.

Governments are struggling to create packages of economic stimulus-wage incentives, tax exemptions, and even money transfers. This, combined with a decline in economic growth, would lead to a large rise in debt, generating a new set of potential challenges.

Covid-19 is at least the sixth worldwide health pandemic since the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918, according to a new study by the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

Covid-19’s emergence was entirely motivated by human activities. And it is estimated that in mammals and birds, another 1.7 million actually ‘undiscovered’ viruses exist, 850,000 of which could infect humans.

According to lead author Dr Peter Daszak, a disease ecologist who spent years researching the spread of coronavirus in China and Southeast Asia, emerging diseases such as swine flu, SARS, Ebola, and the Nipah virus (which devastated Malaysia in 1999) are mainly triggered by changes in land use and human invasion of wildlife habitats.

The study calls for a high-level intergovernmental council on pandemic prevention to provide decision-makers with the best science and evidence on emerging diseases; predict high-risk areas; evaluate the economic impact of potential pandemics and to highlight research gaps”

Such a council may also coordinate the creation of a global monitoring system and promote the development of international priorities or goals that are mutually accepted, with specific benefits for humans, animals and the environment.

The Asean Science Advice Network (ASEAN-SAN) will structure and improve direct pathways of evidence-to-policy making, especially in areas linked to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals brokered by the United Nations around the world.

For example, in the areas of health, socioeconomics and the environment, and in the deployment of pandemic recovery efforts, Asean-SAN will concentrate on how scientific evidence is being used in Covid-19-related policymaking to achieve the significant objective of building back better” and forming a new normal”

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