ONE HEALTH: THE TIES THAT BIND
Since it's inception, lot of info on "ONE HEALTH CONCEPT" was out confusing the young minds with lot of missing links. Here is our friend Dr. Sourav from Odisha giving us a brief description about it and it's relativity to veterinary and professionals like us.
Since prehistoric times humans, animals & plants have shared the ecosystem. They are so intrinsically linked that the destruction of one eventually lead to the destruction of the other. One health is an emerging global key concept integrating human health, animal health & environmental health. While we experience the most significant zoonotic pandemic in the last 100 years, we would do well to consider how we arrived at this historic moment and how we can prevent the next pandemic.
WHAT IS ONE HEALTH?
‘One Health is defined as a collaborative, multisectoral, and transdisciplinary approach—working at the local, regional, national, and global levels—with the goal of achieving optimal health outcomes recognizing the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment’.
Source: One Health Commission
IMPORTANCE OF ONE HEALTH
Many of the same microbes are transmissible from the animals to humans & vice versa (zoonosis) and have the ability to infect both of them as they shared the same ecosystem. Today, we know that 60% of human pathogens are of animal origin, 75% of emerging animal diseases can be transmitted to humans and 80% of pathogens that could potentially be used for bio-terrorism are of animal origin.
Image source: OIE
Each year around the world, it is estimated that zoonosis is the reason behind the sickness of 2.5 billion and the death of 2.7 million. Over the last decade, the direct cost of zoonotic disease has been estimated at more than $20 billion and indirect losses at over $200 billion to affected economics as a whole. Efforts by just one sector can’t prevent or eliminate the problem. For instance, Rabies in human is controlled indirectly by mass vaccinating the dogs.
A One Health approach is especially needed in light of the rapid global environmental and agricultural changes that are presently occurring and expected to increase over the coming decades. These are creating pressures on natural systems and increasing contact between humans and other species, facilitating the emergence of both infectious and noninfectious disease problems.
One health issue addresses zoonotic disease, antimicrobial resistance, food safety & food security, vector-borne diseases, environmental contamination, and other health threats shared by people, animals, and the environment. A collaborative and multi-disciplinary approach, cutting across boundaries of animal, human, and environmental health, is needed to understand the ecology of each emerging zoonotic disease in order to undertake a risk assessment, and to develop plans for response and control.
Communication–coordination–collaboration are the 3 main mantras of the One Health approach. Support for One Health has been expressed at high levels, but its implementation on the ground remains limited due to a wide range of competing priorities.
Image source: CDC
Right now, we can see the earth is in a bit of a hot mess both figuratively and literally. The main challenges we’re facing are the threat to public health, wildlife conservation & environmental stability. Climate change is the poster child of these threats but the other challenges are just as real and potentially as devastating. One such challenge is the loss of biodiversity or the loss of species because every time a species goes extinct we lose its role in the environment, it’s ecosystem services, we lose its unique genetic code that may code for some yet to be discovered life-saving drugs.
As of 2020, the rate of species extinction is >100 times the normal baseline rate and literally, we haven’t seen this kind of extinctions since the dinosaurs were checking out. Experts estimate we may lose 3 species an hour & one may go extinct while you’re reading this article and these extinctions are being caused by one highly successful and intelligent species Homo sapiens, just like you & me.
The emergence and spread of COVID-19 have been the best recent example of the importance of the One Health approach. This pandemic has taught us how a single species of wild animals can cause devastating destruction of mankind within a short period. This is the high time we need to realize the importance of animal & environmental health and build a coordinated, collaborative, multidisciplinary, and cross-sectoral approach to address potential or existing risks that originate at the animal-human-ecosystems interface.
BUILD-UP OF THE ONE HEALTH CONCEPT
The idea of “One Health” had been known for more than a century but it was until, at the beginning of the 2000s, the concept of one health was introduced and taken seriously.
On September 29, 2004, “The Wildlife Conservation Society” held a conference at Rockefeller University in New York out of which the “Manhattan Principles” were created which called for an interdisciplinary approach to prevent disease and formed the basis of “One World, One Health” concept.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), and World Health Organization (WHO) came together along with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), United Nations System Influenza Coordination and the World Bank to develop a framework entitled "Contributing to One World, One Health-A Strategic Framework for Reducing Risks of Infectious Diseases at the Animal-Human-Ecosystems Interface” in 2008, reiterating recommendations for a One Health approach to global health.
In 2016, The One Health Commission, One Health Platform, and One Health Initiative Team deemed “International One Health Day” to be November 3.
OBJECTIVES OF ONE HEALTH
The overarching objectives of the strategic framework proposed in the document ‘One World, One Health’ is to minimize the global impact of diseases of animal origin, including zoonoses, especially those with pandemic potential.
The organization has 9 objectives:
Disseminating research results at biennial meetings
Identifying knowledge gaps in the field
Establishing a Bio Threats Scanning Group to connect One Health and global health security.
Serve as a reference network to the government
Increase awareness during One Health Day
More interdisciplinary programs in education, training, research, and established policy.
More information sharing related to disease detection and diagnosis.
More prevention of disease, both infectious and chronic diseases.
New therapies and approaches to treat unmet needs.
There have been concerns over the effective implementation of One Health within veterinary profession, within the medical profession, by wildlife specialists, and by environmentalists. It gives the general idea of collaboration and convergence; nevertheless, it does not engage with the specifics of how this should take place.
In many cases, countries did not sufficiently invest in their Veterinary or Public Health Services even if the Veterinary Services lie at the heart of intervention actions they require a strong partnership with Public Health Services and wildlife services.
Furthermore, Hasler & Gilbert reported that health professionals from the human health sector are not engaged with One Health, whereas those working in animal and environmental health are interested in the concept.
Shortage of collaborative programs, insufficient environmental training for health professionals, and a lack of institutional support impede progress to address global health and sustainability challenges. Each discipline typically responds once they see an outbreak in their sector.
PROTECTING ANIMALS TO PRESERVE OUR FUTURE
Controlling zoonotic pathogens at their animal source is the most effective and economic way of protecting people. The following steps can be taken as a precautionary measure for the prevention of future infectious disease
Adequate infrastructure and expertise at national and local levels, and entry points.
Timely and responsive disease surveillance systems for animal and human populations.
Up-to-date emergency preparedness and response plans.
Capacity for communication of level of risk.
Capacity to apply international agreements and standards.
Continuous evaluation and improvement of bio-security.
Governance and legislation in line with international standards.
Adequate and sustainable laboratory capacity supported by external quality assurance systems.
Established monitoring and evaluation systems for Veterinary and Public Health Services.
A legal framework with incentives through co-operation with the private sector.
A communication protocol between animal and public health surveillance systems.
The medical, veterinary, paramedical sector, environmentalist, and bio-science researcher need to form a task force to address the issue rather than blaming each other. Further delay may pave way for the emergence of new communicable diseases.
The government and different organizations can only make policies, but we as a citizen are the most important component of the system in terms of implementation of those policies and making them feasible. We can’t neglect the fact that it’s our deeds that has paralyzed the ecosystem and now we’re paying the price as environmental hazards, unknown diseases, pollution, zoonoses, etc. so it’s our role to educate people and make efforts to make the world better place than today.