ONE HEALTH APPORACH
Recently, to deal with zoonotic diseases, a need to operationalize “One Health’ policy in India was highlighted.
Presently, India is dealing with COVID. The virus appears to have its origin in bats.
- The diseases, which “spillover” from animals to humans are referred to as zoonotic diseases
- They represent more than60% of emerging infectious diseases
- The destruction of the natural environment, globalised trade and travel and industrialised food production systems have created numerous pathways for new pathogens to jump between animals and humans.
One Health Concept
The father of modern pathology, Rudolf Virchow, emphasized in 1856 that there are essentially no dividing lines between animal and human medicine. This approach is referred to as One Health. focuses on acknowledging the interconnectedness of animals, humans, and the environment.
One Health Concept involves a multi-disciplinary and cross-sectoral approach to address potential or existing risks that originate at the animal-human-ecosystems interface.
‘One Health’ vision derives its blueprint from the agreement between the tripartite-plus alliance comprising the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
The overarching purpose is to encourage collaborations in research and sharing of knowledge at multiple levels across various disciplines like human health, animal health, plants, soil, environmental and ecosystem health in ways that improve, protect and defend the health of all species.
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) introduced the term “One World-One Health” in 2007 along with 12 recommendations (the Manhattan Principles) that focused on establishing a more holistic approach to preventing epidemic disease and maintaining ecosystem integrity.
India’s One Health Framework
- In keeping with the long-term objectives, India established a National Standing Committee on Zoonoses as far back as the 1980s.
- Further, the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying (DAHD) has launched several schemes to mitigate the prevalence of animal diseases.
- In addition, DAHD will soon establish a ‘One Health’ unit within the Ministry.
- Recently, funds were sanctioned for setting up a ‘Centre for One Health’ at Nagpur.
Challenges pertaining ‘One Health’ vision
- Shortages of veterinary manpower L
- Lack of information sharing between human and animal health institutions,
- Inadequate coordination on food safety at slaughter, distribution, and retail facilities etc
- Consolidating Disease Surveillance: There is a need for consolidating existing animal health and disease surveillance systems — e.g., the Information Network for Animal Productivity and Health, and the National Animal Disease Reporting System.
- Developing Guidelines: Developing best-practice guidelines for informal market and slaughterhouse operation (e.g., inspections, disease prevalence assessments), and creating mechanisms to operationalise ‘One Health’ at every stage down to the village level.
- Holistic Collaboration: One Health initiatives, by their multidisciplinary nature, entail working across ministries and navigating tacit institutional hierarchies and allocating leadership roles.
- Need to cultivate champions in different sectors who can agree on common objectives. This will promote innovation, adaptation and flexibility in terms of political, financial and administrative accountability.
- Establishing Institutional Mechanism: There are already several cross-cutting efforts operating in India to develop protocols for a database of research into zoonotic diseases.
As India battles yet another wave of a deadly zoonotic disease (Covid-19), awareness generation, and increased investments toward meeting ‘One Health’ targets is the need of the hour.