One health

Implements policies, legislation, programmes, and research in which multiple sectors communicate and work together to achieve better global public health outcomes.

The One Health approach is based on the concept that the wellbeing of humans is inextricably linked to the health of wildlife and ecosystems,. The approach acknowledges that managing virus spillover from animal reservoirs to humans, as was the case with the COVID-19 pandemic, requires multidisciplinary teams of experts.

One Health is gaining recognition and importance in recent years, as interactions between people, animals, plants, and our environment intensify due to:

  • growing human populations and expansion into new geographic areas which results in more people living in close contact with wild and domestic animals,
  • disruptions in environmental conditions and habitats due to climate change, deforestation, and intensive farming practices, which provide new opportunities for diseases to pass to animals and
  • increased movement of people, animals, and animal products from international travel and trade, which speeds up the spread of diseases across borders and around the globe.

These changes have led to the spread of existing and new or emerging zoonotic diseases.

TIP: One Health is a key area to follow to track future outbreaks of zoonotic diseases. The COVID-19 pandemic started only a few weeks after the USAID-funded Emerging Pandemic Threats (PREDICT) programme was shut down by the Trump administration.

Since 2009, PREDICT had worked with more than 60 countries to build capacity and strengthen zoonotic pathogen surveillance. It identified at least 931 novel virus species from 145 000 samples of wildlife, livestock, and humans. Calls have been made to reinstate the programme.


Infectious Disease