- Issues related to health.
The One Health concept
What to study?
For prelims and mains: One health concept- background, features, need and significance.
What is it?
The World Organization of Animal Health, commonly known as OIE (an abbreviation of its French title), summarises the One Health concept as “human health and animal health are interdependent and bound to the health of the ecosystems in which they exist”.
Is it a new concept?
The philosophy of One Health recognises inter-connectivity among human health, the health of animals, and the environment.
Circa 400 BC, Hippocrates in his treatise On Airs, Waters and Places had urged physicians that all aspects of patients’ lives need to be considered including their environment; disease was a result of imbalance between man and environment. So One Health is not a new concept, though it is of late that it has been formalised in health governance systems.
Why it has received renewed interests?
As human populations expand, it results in greater contact with domestic and wild animals, providing more opportunities for diseases to pass from one to the other. Climate change, deforestation and intensive farming further disrupt environment characteristics, while increased trade and travel result in closer and more frequent interaction, thus increasing the possibility of transmission of diseases.
- According to the OIE, 60% of existing human infectious diseases are zoonotic i.e. they are transmitted from animals to humans; 75% of emerging infectious human diseases have an animal origin.
- Of the five new human diseases appearing every year, three originate in animals.
- 80% biological agents with potential bio-terrorist use are zoonotic pathogens.
- It is estimated that zoonotic diseases account for nearly two billion cases per year resulting in more than two million deaths — more than from HIV/AIDS and diarrhoea.
- One-fifth of premature deaths in poor countries are attributed to diseases transmitted from animals to humans.
Need of the hour:
- There is need for strengthening veterinary institutions and services.
- The most effective and economical approach is to control zoonotic pathogens at their animal source.
- It calls not only for close collaboration at local, regional and global levels among veterinary, health and environmental governance, but also for greater investment in animal health infrastructure.
- This calls for strict health surveillance to incorporate domestic animals, livestock and poultry too.
- Humans require a regular diet of animal protein. Thus, loss of food animals on account of poor health or disease too becomes a public health issue even though there may be no disease transmission, and we lose 20% of our animals this way.
- There could not be a stronger case for reinventing the entire animal husbandry sector to be able to reach every livestock farmer, not only for disease treatment but for prevention and surveillance to minimise the threat to human health.
- Early detection at animal source can prevent disease transmission to humans and introduction of pathogens into the food chain.
- So a robust animal health system is the first and a crucial step in human health.
- Disease surveillance has to go beyond humans and encompass preventive health and hygiene in livestock and poultry, improved standards of animal husbandry for greater food safety, and effective communication protocols between animal and public health systems.
Challenges for India:
- Developing countries like India have much greater stake in strong One Health systems on account of agricultural systems resulting in uncomfortably close proximity of animals and humans.
- The size of India’s human and animal populations is almost the same; 121 crore people (2011 Census) and 125.5 crore livestock and poultry.
- A network of 1.90 lakh health institutions in the government sector form the backbone of health governance, supported by a large number of private facilities.
- On the other hand, only 65,000 veterinary institutions tend to the health needs of 125.5 crore animals; and this includes 28,000 mobile dispensaries and first aid centres with bare minimum facilities.
- Private sector presence in veterinary services is close to being nonexistent.
Sources: Indian express.