This is an excerpt from an article written and published online by SA People on 28 April, 2020
Wildlife campaigners from 339 organisations from around the world, including the Lion Coalition, Humane Society International, Blood Lions and Born Free Foundation, are calling on the World Health Organisation to release a formal position statement in support of a global ban on wildlife markets selling wild animals or products, in light of the risk to public health.
The groups have written a second open letter to the WHO in response to a statement by WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus calling on governments to “rigorously enforce bans on the sale and trade of wildlife for food”, but falling short of calling for a global prohibition despite the risk of COVID-19 and future zoonotic diseases.
At a media briefing on April 17 Dr Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “Wet markets are an important source of affordable food and livelihood for millions of people all over the world. But in many places, they have been poorly regulated and poorly maintained.
“WHO’s position is that when these markets are allowed to reopen, it should only be on the condition that they conform to stringent food safety and hygiene standards. Governments must rigorously enforce bans on the sale and trade of wildlife for food.”
“WHO has worked closely with the World Organization for Animal Health and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, to develop guidance on the safe operation of markets. Because an estimated 70% of all new viruses come from animals, we also work together closely to understand and prevent pathogens crossing from animals to humans.”