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Editorial (Seventh Issue)


One Health approach: the Need of the Day


Even though the term “One Health” was first introduced in the year 2003, the concept is not very new. It dates back to ancient times, the literatures of the Greek Physician Hippocrates, who mentioned it as “On Airs, Waters, and Places” in the context of human diseases. The term was first used in an article on Ebola Haemorrhagic fever published on 7th April/2003 in the Washington Post. In that article the reporter, Rick Weiss quoted one of the OIE scientists and the Executive Vice President of Health and Policy at EcoHealth Alliance, Dr. William B. Karesh saying as “Human or livestock or wildlife health can’t be discussed in isolation anymore. There is just one health. And the solutions require everyone working together on all the different levels”. World Health Organization has defined One Health as an approach to designing and implementing programmes, policies, legislation and research in which multiple sectors communicate and work together to achieve better public health outcomes. It essentially refers to the management of health in totality, covering broader aspect of human health, animal health and the health of the environment. Contrary to conventional approach of dealing human health, animal health and environmental wellbeing as separate entities, one health considers all to be a part of single eco-system and hence it believes that one part can never do better when the others are neglected. So, health is one and as such it includes all the three components.

Realizing the importance and need for collective effort in health management, at international level, World Health Organization, Food and Agricultural Organization and World Organization for Animal Health are working in tandem for a common goal of ensuring a better future for mankind. It is already an established fact that human health is a distant dream if the animals are sick and/or the environment is polluted. According to OIE statistics, 60 percent of the existing human infections are zoonotic, at least 75 percent of emerging infectious diseases of human infections have animal origin, out of every five new human diseases appearing every year, three are of animal origin and about 80 percent of agents of potential bioterrorist use are zoonotic pathogens. So, to have a healthy society, the animals living in that society must have to be healthy and the environment must have to be pure and unpolluted.

Developed nations, for whose health-care system we are envy of, has gone far ahead in terms of their approach in implementation of the concept of “One Health”. That is the reason for which they are free from many infectious diseases, which are a part of perennial episode in India. “One Health” is still in infancy in India, and collaboration and cooperation among the line departments is very dismal and discouraging. Every year we use to have hundreds of human deaths related to Dengue, Malaria, Tuberculosis, Rabies, Japanese Encephalitis …etc. etc.; the list is very long and these are only a few to name. All these diseases are directly or indirectly dependent on animals, insect or environment and finally transmit to man. Antibiotic resistance is another problem having concerns related to both human and animal health. “It’s better late than never”, therefore, we should also try to learn from our past experiences and put our steps forward in regards to implementation of the “One Health” approach, by bringing all components under one platform for better coordination and synergy.

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