One Health – More than just a Tripartite Collaboration

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Pankhuri Sharma, a second year medical student at Lady Hardinge Medical College, India. She is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Imagine that it is the year 2050, pandemics due to one or more infectious diseases never seem to end, and climate change has wreaked havoc on earth’s resilience. With more “robust” technology and scientific advances, our foundation blocks have been rendered fragile.

Every field of study, today, is advancing at an unprecedented rate – technology, medicine, environmental science, social studies, etc. Yet, the more we go ahead individually, the more we recede collectively.

One World – One Health is a concept that stresses upon the importance of collaborative efforts to maintain human, animal and environmental health, as they are interlinked and influence each other. It is best realised through a centrifugal approach where local efforts coalesce to create global impact.

The efficacy of the One Health approach to achieve Global Health Agendas is very clearly seen in infectious diseases, through Zoonoses, Antimicrobial Resistance and Biological Diversity. But with each passing day, we find conclusive evidence on how environment and socioeconomic systems also affect humans through non communicable diseases.

When we consider the multiple factors at play and the complexity of public health issues, we understand that One Health is more than just Human, Animal and Environment. Evolutionary data, ecological studies, social, economic and legal aspects are all important, but marginalised sectors under One Health. The main aim is to dissipate scientific evidences to stakeholders in the social, economic and legal sectors. What science stands to gain is addressing these risks through their perceptions and impact, which will significantly benefit preventive health and build the resilience of our systems as well as community.

Removing interdisciplinary barriers is the foremost need to implement the One Health approach, which moves beyond science, and into politics, law, society and ethics.

One Health approach feels almost intuitive but it is as difficult to implement on ground. There is a need to provide evidence on the added value of adopting this approach to governments and key stakeholders. Promoting intersectoral collaboration, which is central to realising the one health agenda, will only be possible with broad institutional changes and adequate funding.  Integration of sufficient understanding of various disciplines during professional training is essential to allow different specialists to work as a team.

There is no One Health blanket that would fit all systems and countries, instead a workable balance must be achieved to work towards the Global Health Agendas.

About the author

Pankhuri Sharma is a second year medical student at Lady Hardinge Medical College, India. She is a member of MSAI-India and is active in the IFMSA space. She is extremely inclined towards preventive and social medicine to create an impact in the public health sector. She has also been involved in advocacy campaigns for gender affirmative healthcare in her city. Her interests include casual doodling and public speaking, among other things.

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