One Health for Everyone!

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Rajvi Chaudhary, a fresh graduate from Medical College Baroda and SSG Hospital, India and Ms. Vidhi Parikh, an intern doctor at Parul Institute of Medical Sciences and Research and Parul Sevashram Hospital, India. They are 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.


The concept of One Health (OH) isn’t new but was earlier known as “One Medicine”. Calvin Schwabe, a veterinary epidemiologist was the first to propose the concept of One Health. As Schwabe has rightly stated that “There is no difference of paradigm between human and veterinary medicine. Both sciences share a common body of knowledge in anatomy, physiology, pathology, on the origins of diseases in all species”. Thus, both need to work side-by-side for each other’s development.1

The ever-increasing synergies between humans and animals act as a strong driving force for the emergence of new infectious diseases and some of which pose a potential threat to become pandemic, the current Covid- 19 being the perfect example. About 75% of all infectious diseases originate from animals. Several pandemics in the history of mankind such as Covid-19, severe acute respiratory syndrome, middle-east respiratory syndrome, Spanish flu all have animals as their sources.2 In addition to climate change, the emergence of antibiotic resistance and altered ecosystems along with the ever-increasing migration of humans across continents which causes severe threats to wildlife creates more opportunities for the spreading of zoonotic disease.

All the developing countries are in the process of executing the concept of OH. The government of India in May 2019, set up a National Expert Group on ‘One Health’ to tackle the current pandemic and prevent future outbreaks. Aspects of OH were included in multiple SDGs such as SDG 13 and SDG 15. OH responses are also a pivotal feature of several projects such as World Bank’s Strategic Preparedness and Response Program to Covid-19 3 and Global Program for Avian Influenza and Human Pandemic Preparedness and Response. 4

Although the OH approach is in an embryonic stage in India, The Centre of Zoonosis, the National Centre for Disease Control has published a manual for handling zoonotic diseases. A process of consultation has been initiated regarding an appropriate organizational structure for an OH hub to support intersectoral activities involving both the human and animal health sectors, working with government engagement on OH initiatives. 5 Avian influenza preparedness and response have been a success story for India. Despite the initiatives, there are still challenges related to adopting the OH approach in the country for zoonosis. 6 In a developing country like India, where around 66% of the population resides in rural areas 7, galvanizing the involvement of local communities at the grass-roots level is crucial. And so, community involvement should be boosted by involving local NGOs. The concept of OH should be introduced in the school’s educational curriculum. Research among medical students should be encouraged.

Integration of information from other disciplines such as Geographical Information Systems (GIS) whose data can guide preventive vaccination strategies and preparation efforts to prevent disease threats and monitor control programs.8 In this digitalized era where almost every piece of information is available at your fingertips, effective use of “ healthmap.org ” 9 and mobile app “Outbreaks Near Me” 10 also deliver real-time intelligence on a range of emerging infectious diseases for a wide range of audiences including international travellers.

To tackle preventable conditions at the animal-human-ecosystems interface, the OH approach plays an essential role. By encouraging and promoting the OH concept at multiple levels, will help to achieve the best outcomes for the well-being of everyone. One health can be a potent platform to tackle both infectious and non-communicable diseases and thus create a sustainable world for all.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3145159/
  2. https://www.visiblebody.com/blog/5-deadly-pandemics-of-the-past-and-what-we-can-learn-from-them
  3. https://www.worldbank.org/en/about/what-we-do/brief/world-bank-group-operational-response-covid-19-coronavirus-projects-list
  4. https://documents.worldbank.org/en/publication/documents-reports/documentdetail/908811468140057837/global-program-for-avian-influenza-and-human-pandemic-preparedness-and-response-gpai-program-framework-document
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7232973/
  6. https://www.ijmr.org.in/article.asp?issn=0971-5916;year=2021;volume=153;issue=3;spage=281;epage=286;aulast=Dasgupta
  7. https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.RUR.TOTL.ZS
  8. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/301747578_Geographic_information_systems_in_Health_Basic_Concepts
  9. https://healthmap.org/en/
  10. https://outbreaksnearme.org/us/en-US/

About the author

Rajvi Chaudhary is a fresh graduate from Medical College Baroda and SSG Hospital, India. She is a member of MSAI, IFMSA. She has worked as Covid Medical Officer at Civil Hospital, Mehsana. She had volunteered to supervise the national immunization day, January 2021 organized by WHO in rural areas of Vadodara, India for polio vaccination. She is deeply interested in how modifications in lifestyle, appropriate exercise, and diet bring positive change in everyone’s life which in turn decreases the chance of being physically as well as psychologically ill. She wants to get affiliated with research related to holistic medicine.

Vidhi Parikh is an intern doctor at Parul Institute of Medical Sciences and Research and Parul Sevashram Hospital, India. She is a member of MSAI. She has also done a research study on menstruation when she was in her third year of medical school. She has attended various workshops and conferences concerned with skills in medicine and patient care. She is an avid reader and she is the content lead at Scholarship Track. She has started a campaign on MHM where she spreads awareness in rural areas and aims to end period poverty. She is interested in research involving newborn medicine.

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