Today, 3 November 2021, marks the 6th annual One Health Day. The events of the past two years, as the world has been shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic, must trigger a turning point for global health. The One Health approach has a key role to play.
Throughout the pandemic recognition of One Health has grown, including awareness of the links between animals, humans, plants and the environment, the health threats which can emerge at their interface, and the impact these threats can have on global health security.
The UK Prime Minister set out a five point plan for preventing future pandemics in his 2020 United Nations General Assembly speech, committing the UK’s G7 Presidency to global health security and pandemic preparedness and response. A One Health approach underpins much of this. To mark One Health Day we are shining a light on One Health commitments made this year by the G7.
- At the Summit in June, Heads of Government from the G7 emphasised the importance of the One Health approach. They stated the need to improve integration and strengthen pandemic prevention and preparedness to protect the health of all living beings in the G7 Summit Leaders’ Communiqué, and championed the approach across the Carbis Bay Health Declaration.
- G7 Health Ministers bolstered these commitments by supporting the need for a One Health Intelligence Scoping Study being undertaken by UNEP and the Tripartite (OIE-FAO-WHO) alliance. This is an important step towards a more joined up One Health intelligence system, significantly enhancing global detection, assessment and response to health hazards.
- G7 Leaders and Climate and Environment Ministers helped bridge the gap between health and the ecosystem. The International Zoonoses Community of Experts, which all G7 Countries are signed up to, was established, bringing together expertise and communication networks to better share knowledge on the links between animals and humans.
- The 2030 Nature Compact acknowledged the links between tackling biodiversity loss with protecting human, wildlife, and animal health and preventing pandemics.
- The G7 Summit in June also saw the launch of the UK Animal Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre to develop vaccines to prevent diseases spreading between animals and humans.
This One Health Day is an opportunity to promote the important work happening around the world, both through the G7 and others such as the UNEP and the Tripartite alliance and the One Health High Level Expert Panel, an advisory body of leaders in One Health disciplines.
Whilst One Health recognition has been enhanced through efforts this year, more work is needed to embed this approach across global health systems to learn the lessons from the pandemic and prevent and combat future health threats. It is crucial that the agenda continues, at all levels. From the global level, through efforts such as COP26 and next year’s G7 Presidency, to individual actions through increased awareness and understanding of the One Health approach, we all have a role to play.
One Health, the connection between human, animal, plant and environmental health, has again been brought into sharp focus by the Covid-19 pandemic. This is why we are spearheading efforts to embed trans-disciplinary One Health Approaches at every level. This includes undertaking holistic risk assessments and sharing our world-leading lab capabilities with global partners to tackle cross-sector threats such as antimicrobial resistance.
By bringing together experts from different disciplines and building One Health approaches into international, government and local community processes, we can better understand, prevent and address the impact of global threats such as pandemics, food insecurity and climate change. This will help us protect the health of our planet and those that live on it for years to come.Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, George Eustice
Taking a One Health approach to health is crucial, both now and in the future. We are in the middle of a global fight against a zoonotic disease and there is every chance that the next international health threat will have its origin at the human-animal-environment interface.
It is only by taking a One Health approach that we can detect, prevent and respond to these threats.
Collaboration, across sectors and with international organisations, will be imperative. We have worked hard and together throughout the COVID response, and we must continue to do so to prepare for whatever comes next.Deputy Chief Medical Officer (DCMO) Professor Jonathan Van-Tam