One Health: a concept that became an approach and then a movement.
Aim of One Health:
To improve health and well-being through the prevention of risks and the mitigation of effects of crises that originate at the interface between humans, animals and their various environments.
For that purpose:
- to promote a multi (cross) sectoral and collaborative approach.
- to promote a “whole of society” approach to health hazards, as a systemic change of perspective in the management of risk.
One Health is more of an approach than a new concept. It is rapidly becoming an international movement based on cross-sectoral collaborations.
What is One Health in a rapidly evolving international context?
One Health recognizes that the health of humans, animals and ecosystems are interconnected. It involves applying a coordinated, collaborative, multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral approach to address potential or existing risks that originate at the animal-human-ecosystems interface.
Regardless of which of the many definitions of One Health is used, the common theme is collaboration across sectors. Collaborating across sectors that have a direct or indirect impact on health involves thinking and working across silos and optimizing resources and efforts while respecting the autonomy of the various sectors. To improve the effectiveness of the One Health approach, there is a need to establish a better sectoral balance among existing groups and networks, especially between veterinarians and physicians, and to increase the participation of environmental and wildlife health practitioners, as well as social scientists and development actors.
In less than four years, One Health has gained significant momentum. It is now a movement and it is moving fast. The approach has been formally endorsed by the European Commission, the US Department of State, US Department of Agriculture, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Bank, World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), United Nations System Influenza Coordination (UNSIC), various Universities, NGOs and many others.
The current One Health movement is an unexpected positive development that emerged following the unprecedented Global Response to the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza. Since the end of 2005, there has been increasing interest in new international political and cross-sectoral collaborations on serious health risks. Numerous international meetings and symposia have been held, including major initiatives in Winnipeg (Manitoba, Canada, March 2009), Hanoi (Vietnam, April 2010), and Stone Mountain (Georgia, US, May 2010), as well as the first international One Health scientific congress, which took place in Melbourne, Australia, in February of 2011.
At the Stone Mountain One Health expert meeting, participants agreed that One Health should not be “possessed” or “mastered” by any one organization or institution; that One Health should remain flexible and comprehensive; and that One Health can be promoted by various institutions, but it should not be institutionalized. There also was consensus that a One Health Global Network should be developed to improve coordination and collaboration.
The First International One Health Congress of Melbourne demonstrated that One Health was becoming an international movement, with One Health research and projects being conducted in many places of the world. Melbourne too contributed to the broader discussion of how to create and sustain a community of practice on One Health.
Building on this momentum, the Expert Meeting on One Health Governance and Global Network was held in Atlanta, Georgia, US, on October 31 to November 1, 2011. The group of experts, debating in their personal capacity, produced a highly consensual package of deliverables and a roadmap for the way forward. The report of the Atlanta meeting is available on various websites, including:
http://www.eeas.europa.eu/health/ and http://www.cdc.gov/onehealth/