One Health


    In News

    • Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has once again renewed interest among scientists and policy makers for building an integrated approach such as One Health. 

    About One Health

    • It is an approach to design and implement programmes, policies, legislation and research in which multiple sectors communicate and work together to achieve better public health outcomes.
    • Interdependence: The core of the One Health approach is rooted in acknowledging and understanding the interdependence of human and natural systems to obtain optimal health for people, animals and the environment.
    • It is particularly relevant in food safety, the control of zoonoses (diseases that can spread between animals and humans) and combating antibiotic resistance (when bacteria change after being exposed to antibiotics and become more difficult to treat).
    • Developing database: For One Health science, it is important to develop databases and models with a consolidated approach of ecologists, field biologists, epidemiologists and other scientists.
      • The Kyasanur Forest Disease Model is one such example.

    Joint strategic framework

    • Participants: The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), under their tripartite agreement and in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank, have developed a joint strategic framework to implement the One Health approach.
    • Aim: The framework aims to assist national authorities in initiating steps to strengthen efforts towards the control of zoonoses and AMR in a comprehensive manner through collaborative activities among various sectors for a healthier and productive human and animal population co-existing in a safe environment.
    • The implementation of One Health can be driven by policies, knowledge sharing, institutional collaboration, joint programmes and operational plans, advocacy and awareness amongst policy makers and professionals, engagement of civil society and active community participation.

    Benefits of One Health

    • Reduce potential threats at the human-animal-environment interface to control diseases that spread between animals and humans
    • Tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR)
    • Ensure food safety
    • Prevent environment-related health threats to humans and animals
    • Protect biodiversity.


    • Spread of disease: About 60 per cent of the known infectious diseases in humans and 75 percent of all emerging infectious diseases are caused by pathogens that originate in animals.
    • Antibiotic-resistant microbes also can effectively be transmitted from animals to humans and cause diseases in humans which may not respond to affordable antibiotics.
    • Extensive and irrational use of antibiotics especially in the livestock sector for increasing yield and preventing diseases causes emergence and selection of resistant pathogens. These spread through animal-human interaction or food chain.

    Need? / Significance

    • Integrated approach: The COVID-19 pandemic has renewed interest among scientists and policy makers for building an integrated approach for prevention, early detection and instituting appropriate response to control such public health emergencies.
    • Systematic collection of data: An important aspect of such an integrated approach is the systematic collection of data on the occurrence of infectious diseases and related behaviours in both humans and animals.
    • Improved collaboration, coordination and commitment of relevant sectors to minimise the impact of these diseases on human health is also a salient feature.
    • The risk of infectious agents is crossing the barriers and spreading rapidly around the globe due to increased travel, food habits and trade across borders.
    • Zoonotic diseases have devastating impacts on animals, humans, health systems, and economies, requiring years of social and economic recovery. 
    • Information on influenza viruses circulating in animals is crucial to the selection of viruses for human vaccines for potential influenza pandemics. 
    • Saving lives along with the livelihoods.

    Steps taken globally and by the India

    • In India efforts have been made to bring human and animal health together: There have been instances of collaboration at national and state levels to combat specific diseases or to overcome disease outbreaks such as the national influenza pandemic committee to control avian influenza, rabies in Tamil Nadu and other states.
    • Collaboration: Institutes like the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) have collaborated for joint research priorities, mostly to control disease outbreaks and also at individual levels between human and animal health researchers as well as practitioners.
    • The Integrated Disease Surveillance Project: launched in 2004 for disease outbreak detection and rapid response functions, has generated several information on flow of certain disease outbreaks but the programme has been unable to integrate human and animal (livestock and wildlife) surveillance.
    • A multi-disciplinary Road Map to Combat Zoonoses: was laid to create an integrated mechanism for surveillance, detection and treatment of zoonoses.
    • The National Mission on Biodiversity and Human Well-being built on a framework that integrates biodiversity, ecosystem services, climate change, agriculture, health, bio-economy and capacity-building in the realm of biodiversity science has one mission component that explicitly links biodiversity to human health through the One Health approach.
    • The Government of India decided to set up a dedicated centre under ICMR to contain zoonotic diseases: the Centre for One Health at Nagpur, and also constituted a ‘National Expert Group on One Health’ to promote multi-sectoral, transdisciplinary, collaboration and co-operation to adopt and implement a One Health framework in India.
    • National Framework for One Health 2021 by FAO
      • Improving the capacity for public health actions in major stakeholders human health, animal health and environment management.
      • Understanding and responding to the drivers that threaten health; optimising the effectiveness of public health systems in achieving these goals within each sector.
      • Institutionalise strong, continuous and mutually beneficial coordination and collaboration between all stakeholders through multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional joint planning and implementation.

    Way forward/ Suggestions

    • Pandemic-preparedness plans: are already under consideration among major international bodies to thwart pandemic in the future. The multi-disciplinary approaches of ‘One Health’ are central to these plans.
    • The One Health concept is not new but its importance to address the complex health and environmental challenges has become more prominent in recent years.
    • Potential solutions to these problems can only be understood when human, animal, and environmental health questions are evaluated in an integrated and holistic manner rather than in siloed approaches. 
    • In the past India has combatted several zoonotic diseases and has a robust institutional network for biomedical research, which can lead and operationalise the One Health approach.
    • Nexus: a nexus of science, social science, indigenous knowledge and policy at national, state and local levels can put forward strategies and institutions for implementation of One Health.

    Source: DTE