The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and the World Health Organization (WHO) recognize a joint responsibility to minimize the health, social and economic impact from diseases arising at the human-animal interface by preventing, detecting, controlling, eliminating or reducing disease risks to humans originating directly or indirectly from domestic or wild animals, and their environments.

An important aspect of efforts to mitigate potential health threats at the human-animalecosystems interface is early warning, supported by robust risk assessment to inform decisions, actions, and timely communication between agencies and sectors responsible for human health, animal health, wildlife, and food safety. In 2006, in response to health threats such as H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) and the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), the three organizations consolidated efforts to establish a Global Early Warning System for Major Animal Diseases Including Zoonosis (GLEWS).

GLEWS became one of the mechanisms used by the OIE, FAO, and WHO together for monitoring data from existing event-based surveillance systems and to track and verify relevant animal and zoonotic events. This mechanism has provided a global platform
that brought together expertise, data, functional networks, operational systems and stakeholders to improve interorganizational coordination and support to Member countries for detecting, preventing and controlling threats to health and the food chain. GLEWS embodies a cross-sectoral and multidisciplinary collaborative tool in addressing health risks at the human-animal-ecosystems interface.

Over the years since its establishment, GLEWS has become a powerful mechanism to bring together the information and expertise existing in the three organizations and associated networks.