Lets talk ‘One Health’ (Introduction); By Dr Rosoye and Dr Kikiope Oluwarore
You might have heard of Public health, Global heath and Tropical medicine. You are probably still trying to grasp what it’s all about and suddenly … ‘One Health’ is here! I know the feeling and trust me, it’s not a plot for health professionals to confuse anyone or make up terminologies. We will shed light on the “One Health” concept and discuss its great benefits as best integrated approach for sustainable health promotion and effective disease control in our world today.
Calvin Schwabe, a veterinary epidemiologist and parasitologist was the originator of the phrase “One Medicine” which was later rephrased to “One Health”. This concept emerged from the realization that human and animal health is greatly intertwined and both are affected by environmental factors. To define in simple terms, the One Health concept is the integration of different disciplines and stakeholders so as to achieve a common goal of health promotion and disease control either locally, nationally or globally. This include a joint effort by professionals and stakeholders from different disciplines including (but not limited to) health professionals, non-health professionals, public and private sector institutions, government and community members. One Health approach works on the percepts that health especially in our present times, is integrated in other sectors of livelihood; including the socio-cultural, economic, mental, psychological, political, and environmental. Therefore, One Health works with the notion that everyone has at least a skill, knowledge or socio-cultural relationship that can be contributed in the improvement of health systems and in health promotion. This means that as medical doctors, veterinary doctors, environmentalist, microbiologist, disease modellers, anthropologist, statisticians, sociologists, policy makers, government officials, artistes, artists, etc, we can all contribute to promotion of health in our communities and according to our capabilities.
According to the One Health Initiative, “One Health recognizes that humans do not exist in isolation, but are a part of larger whole, a living ecosystem, and activities of each member affects the other. Thus, One Health considers health as a whole, the humans, the animals and the environment they exist on”.
Why One Health?
Majority (up to three quarters) of emerging and re-emerging human infectious disease (i.e. new diseases and diseases that are making a comeback) in the last thirty years originated from animals. These include diseases such as plague, measles, HIV, Lassa fever and Ebola. Therefore, it is imperative that control of diseases must be extended from the focus of humans alone to other major aspects of life and existence, which include animals and our environment. If we restrict our disease treatment, control and prevention to humans alone, the disease organisms reserved in animals and our environment would only re-infect humans some other time in the nearest future. Therefore, to proffer a holistic solution to global disease control that is sustainable, effective and promotes unity of purpose among stakeholders and target populations, a One Health approach is highly recommended.
In subsequent articles, we will discuss further on One Health concept and the progress being made worldwide.
Dr. Rosoye is a major contributor to the ‘One Health’ focus area for the MyAnimal,MyHealth Network.
She is a Veterinary Doctor with an interest in combating infectious disease issues through research, education and the one health approach. She gained her DVM in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Ibadan. Subsequently, she completed a joint Masters degree in One Health (Infectious Diseases) from the Royal Veterinary College and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of London