one health

one health

Summary

One Health is an integrated, unified approach to balancing and improving the health of people, animals and ecosystems. It uses the close and interdependent links between these areas to create new ways to monitor and control disease.

For example, the way the land is used can influence the number of malaria cases. Weather patterns and man-made water controls can affect diseases such as dengue fever. Trade in live wild animals can increase the potential for infectious diseases to be transmitted to humans (called disease spread).

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for a global framework for improved surveillance and a more comprehensive and integrated system. Gaps in single health knowledge, prevention and integrated approaches have been identified as the main drivers of the epidemic. By addressing the links between human, animal and environmental health, One Health is seen as a transformative approach to improving global health.

The scope of the problem

The emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that caused COVID-19 emphasized the need to strengthen One Health’s approach, with a greater focus on links with animal health and the environment (see WHO Statement for Healthy Recovery from COVID-19). Attempting to save money by neglecting environmental protection, emergency preparedness, health systems, water and sanitation infrastructure and social safety nets has proven to be the wrong economy, and the bill is now being paid many times over.

We now have an unprecedented opportunity to enhance cooperation and policies across these many areas and reduce the risks of future epidemics and epidemics while addressing the continuing burden of endemic and non-communicable diseases.

Monitoring that captures risks and helps identify patterns across these many areas is needed. In addition, new research should integrate the impact of these different areas, particularly on the drivers that lead to crises.

Challenges

To implement One Health, major structural changes are required to integrate the areas of human, animal and environmental health, support multi-sectoral communication, collaboration and coordination, and enhance capacity.

Critical vulnerabilities in the One Health app include:

  • databases and resources to support information exchange and work in line with the One Health approach;
  • Identify and display best practice examples of One Health implementation;
  • Identify current One Health research initiatives and capabilities and build the next generation of the One Health workforce;
  • One Health Integrated Monitoring System model;
  • Mechanisms for routine and emergency coordination with relevant stakeholders;
  • A more comprehensive understanding of the drivers of the spread of zoonotic diseases (transmitted between animals and humans). This includes animal trade, agriculture and livestock, urbanization and habitat fragmentation;
  • a standardized approach to assessing the risks of the spread of pathogens between different groups of animals and humans, and the emergence of zoonotic diseases, including those that arise in diets; And the
  • Ways to identify and reduce indirect risks and spread of zoonoses in ways that minimize trade-offs and maximize co-benefits with other health and sustainable development goals.

WHO response

WHO integrates One Health across its units and offices, provides strategic policy advice, and conducts training at the local, national and regional levels. The goal is stronger country-led and owned programmes.

The World Health Organization is a member of the One Health Quartet with the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Organization for Animal Health, and the United Nations Environment Programme. Together, they have developed a Joint Action Plan for One Health that includes a set of activities that the four organizations can do together, including working with political leaders to create the necessary infrastructure and funding.

The World Health Organization is the secretariat of the High-level Panel of Experts on One Health (OHHLEP), which provides scientific advice to the Quadripartite partners on the identification of One Health priorities, policies and strategies. This includes recommendations for good practice guidelines, a single model health surveillance system, a comprehensive list of primary drivers of zoonotic disease outbreaks and recommendations for mitigating these risks.

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