Why One Health

Of every ten infectious diseases that are identified in humans, six are “zoonotic” diseases – diseases originating in animal populations. With ever-increasing human intrusion into natural ecosystems, the growing demand for animal-based food products, international trade, international travel, and other factors, human exposure to zoonotic diseases has never been higher.

Several countries have experienced zoonotic disease outbreaks that could have easily been prevented if they were promptly addressed through effective collaboration between the human, animal, and environmental health sectors. Too often, however, the sectors work in “silos.” Disease surveillance systems are often focused on humans while animal health systems usually lag behind and fail to detect and respond to outbreaks until the human population is affected.

One Health is the interdisciplinary, collaborative effort to attain optimal health for humans, animals, and the environment. The value of the One Health approach to emerging pandemic threats is that livestock, wildlife, and environmental health experts working together have the opportunity to prevent pandemic threats before they “spillover” into human populations and an outbreak occurs.

The One Health approach calls for proactive multisectoral and interdisciplinary engagement across the human, animal (including wildlife), and environmental health sectors. When institutionalized as a formal multisectoral coordination approach, One Health can promote prevention efforts and save time in detecting and responding to an outbreak.

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