At the end of May 2021, the One Health High-Level Expert Panel was launched with the support of the governments of France and Germany. This panel has an advisory role to state members of the United Nations (UN) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), and it includes 26 selected key international experts from 24 countries. The panel has revamped the definition of One Health, stating “One Health is an integrated, unifying approach that aims to sustainably balance and optimize the health of people, animals, and ecosystems. It recognizes the health of humans, domestic and wild animals, plants, and the wider environment (including ecosystems) are closely linked and interdependent. The approach mobilizes multiple sectors, disciplines, and communities at varying levels of society to work together to foster well-being and tackle threats to health and ecosystems, while addressing the collective need for clean water, air, energy sources, and safe and nutritious food, taking action on climate change, and contributing to sustainable development.”

There are multiple definitions of One Health and the panel wanted to have a working definition that was understood in the same way and agreed upon by every member of the panel, as well as a meaningful framework to guide governments in their development and application of One Health strategies. Definitions allow for a collective and consensual understanding of a concept and for setting clear goals with clear paths on how to reach them. It is one of the first definitions to feature plants explicitly. It also emphasizes inter-dependence, rather than solely inter-connection, thus, highlighting how the health of one component depends on the health of the other components. My only criticism of the definition is that it has some hints of anthropocentrism in the use of terms such as “energy” and “sustainable development” and that listing specific goals also risks pigeonholing the application of One Health.

Nonetheless, the definition overall has a wide breadth. I believe it will make more stakeholders feel welcome and make them feel that they can be potential contributors and players in the field. One Health has long been associated with the interconnection of animal and human health; Eco-Health with the interconnection of health of the environment, including animals, and humans; and lastly, Planetary Health with the dependence of humans on the health of the planet. Hopefully, this new definition unhinges One Health from the above-stated association and injects further new life into the concept. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the concept to the forefront, and this new definition should embrace the holistic approach of One Health for the co-advancement of the health of humans, animals, plants, and the environment.

By: Olga Muñoz PhD  | Graduate Assistant
by One Health Center of Excellence

Source: UF/IFAS Pest Alert

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