The concept of ‘One Health’recognizes that health of human beings is connected to health of animals and environment. One Health is the collaborative efforts of multiple disciplines working locally, nationally, and globally, to attain optimal health for people, animals and the environment. The concept is now a days gaining importance as most of the contagious diseases affecting humans are zoonotic (animal to man origin) in nature. Studies indicate more than two-third of existing and emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic i.e traces their origin in animals. We should expect and be prepared to face more and more such infections in the coming days considering the climate change and environmental degradation. Increasing stress on animals due to loss of their habitat would increase scope of zoonotic diseases.Recent corona outbreak shows that there is no boundary between human vaccine and animal vaccine, i.e. zoonotic disease must be cured. There are many examples, such as Nipah virus, Ebola, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Avian Influenza, which shows that diseases are transmitted from animal to human.Thus, “One Health model will strategically address all these issues and will facilitate to get detailed updates. The WHO is very effectively addressing emerging issues of antimicrobial resistance through One Health research. All the developing countries are in the process of promoting One Health research for developing a sustainable disease control system. Need of the hour is to scale up such a model across the country and to establish meaningful research collaborations across the world. ASEAN and trans Pacific countries are giving more thrust to this sector. Medical, veterinary, paramedical sectors and bioscience researchers need to form a task force to address such emerging issues. The One Health approach for the management of Covid-19 and future pandemics requires, on the one hand, the development of synergies and methodological integration between veterinary and human medicine, with a wider mobilization of veterinary skills (epidemiologists, virologists) within the national task forces, and on the other hand, the early involvement of other professionals, such as social scientists, engineers, environmental experts, economists, wildlife experts. Basically, by exploiting this convergence and with a holistic vision of multi-systemic relationships, the health authorities can place the health emergencies within a much wider system and ensure effective and sustainable prevention and control measures of health threats.
The One Health approach requires the overcoming of a series of gaps related to communication, training, and financial resources. To cope with the Covid-19 emergency and similar threats with high socio-economic and health impacts, communication is a key element to ensure swift information flows within the surveillance systems, with data shared among veterinarians, physicians, and other professionals, between them and government functions and externally with interested parties and the general public. Education and training play a fundamental role in building a One Health mindset and promoting cultural action to change the societal perception of a lesser role of animals (reservoirs or intermediate hosts of pathogens) in the epidemiology of human infections. It is necessary to increase the awareness of policymakers on the importance of veterinary wildlife surveillance programs to prevent future pandemics or panzootic.Covid-19 has resulted in extraordinary morbidity and loss of life and devastating economic burden, and has placed tremendous strain on a national health care system we thought was indestructible. We must leverage the lessons learned throughout this crisis to transform the way we care for patients. Now is the time to boldly transform our health care systems in ways we have previously been unable to. We should use this unprecedented opportunity to fix what hasn’t worked and direct our full attention to new and greater goals centered on creating value for patients.
(The author is Veterinary Assistant Surgeon at J&K Animal Husbandry Department. Views are his own)