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What is One Health?

Article summarising One Health concepts
© COG-Train

One Health is an approach to public health which recognises that people’s health is closely connected to the health of animals and the environment. It was developed in response to evidence of zoonotic diseases spreading between species. This is caused by humans and animals, and their respective pathogens, coming into closer contact with each other as humans encroach on animal habitats. It’s an effective way to focus on health issues at the human-animal-environment interface.

For example, a One Health approach can be applied to emerging, re-emerging, and endemic diseases, neglected tropical diseases, vector-borne diseases, and antimicrobial resistance. It involves a holistic approach with many disciples working together. In the public health arena, for example, it would include a coordinated approach among public health scientists, physicians, nurses, veterinarians, ecologists, and policymakers to ensure effective communication, collaboration and data sharing.

A One Health approach to genomic surveillance can help in preparing for future pandemics. A combination of surveillance for known infectious diseases in human and animal metagenomics with surveillance of other pathogens in livestock or humans (e.g. in abattoirs and urban sewage), alongside other environmental samples from the wildlife of other vectors, could identify the emergence and spread of new infections.

Illustrative image of One Health interdisciplinarity. There are three circles connected by gears labelled as “collaboration”, “communication”, “coordination” and “capacity building”, respectively. The top left circle is labelled: “sectors and disciplines”, and inside the labels: “environment”, “human” and “animal”, with representative illustrations of each label. On the top right the circle identified as “society” contains labels and representative illustrations of “rural, urban, mobile communities”, “local and national - regional and global”, and “inclusivity, equity and access”. The “One Health” central circle contains the labels and respective illustrations for “healthy ecosystems”, “healthy animals” and “healthy humans”

Click here to enlarge the image

Figure 1 – Taking One Health from theory to practice, as highlighted by the 4 Cs: Communication, Coordination, Collaboration, and Capacity building between a wide range of areas and sectors. Source: Plos Pathogens

More broadly a One Health approach can:

  • Prevent outbreaks of zoonotic disease in animals and people.
  • Reduce antimicrobial-resistant infections, thereby improving human and animal health.
  • Protect biodiversity and conservation.
  • Improve food safety and security.
  • Contribute to future pandemic preparedness and response.

Further reading

CDC One Health

Pandemics– One Health preparedness for the next

Towards One Health: Reflections and practices on the different fields of One Health in China

Had you come across or worked with a One Health approach before? Please share in the comments.

© COG-Train
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Pathogen Genomics: A New Era in Global Health Surveillance and Strategy

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