Friday 3rd November 2023 is the 8th annual One Health Day, observed internationally to “raise global awareness” of the importance of One Health “collaborations” and intentions. The day promotes understanding of the approach and seeks to encourage implementation. The UN Environment Programme suggests that the “theme” for this year is “Act Together for One Health”. How can you contribute to global efforts? In this article we will explore the approach and how it is being put into practice.
What is One Health?
WHO states that One Health is an “integrated, unifying approach” that seeks to “balance and optimise the health of people, animals, and the environment”. It recognises that these different aspects of ‘health’ are not as distinct as previously considered; the health of one depends on the health of others. Health thought leaders love the concept of ‘breaking out of siloes’ and this is a classic example of just that. The UN FAO explains how:
“The One Health approach leverages the idea that problems impacting human health, animals, plants, and the environment can be effectively resolved through improved coordination, communication, and collaborative actions across disciplines and that these solutions be sustainable.”
How is One Health practiced?
We can first examine the One Health Joint Plan of Action, launched by the Quadripartite Secretariat for One Health in October 2022. The plan sought to “create a framework” to “integrate systems and capacity”. This is a 5-year plan with six “interdependent action tracks”.
How is this plan being implemented and held accountable as it progresses? The following points are presented in the report:
- The One Health Joint Plan of Action (OH JPA) will be supported by an implementation framework with workplans at global, regional and country level.
- A joint process will be established to develop the implementation framework.
- The OH JPA aims to engage wider stakeholders on particular themes and activities and to help with advocacy and maintaining the urgency, public support, political momentum, and visibility of the One Health approach.
- The Quadripartite regional coordination mechanisms mirror the role of the global Secretariat at regional level.
- The Quadripartite will develop a monitoring and evaluation framework with targets and indicators.
- The targets of the OH JPA will be linked to reflect their contribution to attaining the relevant targets of the SDGs.
- Implementation at country level may be linked to UN Sustainable Development Framework implementation.
- A One Health toolkit will be developed.
WHO indicates that the OH JPA implementation guide will be released later this year to support countries in their implementation of the approach. Furthermore, on One Health Day this year, WHO is hosting an event in the dialogue series, aiming to answer the following questions:
- What is the current status of the One Health implementation? What are the challenges, gaps, and opportunities?
- How is the technical and advocacy support of the Quadripartite helping countries to implement the OH approach?
- What are the planned next steps for translating the One Health approach into actions with the OH JPA?
How are you implementing the approach in your work? We’d love to hear your examples, particularly if you are doing something to observe One Health Day. Some of the experts we have spoken to in our Congress Conversations series at previous events have outlined how their work fits into the approach, or how it informs their efforts. We have provided a few examples below but encourage you to read around if you are interested!
Dr Alex Dehgan: “Planetary health meets public health: Dr Alex Dehgan”
Dr Jennifer McQuiston: “Driving public health conversations: Dr Jennifer McQuiston”
Dr Jomana Musmar: “Breaking One Health barriers with Dr Jomana Musmar”
Joel Harris: “Agricultural equilibrium: old meets new with Joel Harris”
We also look forward to sharing more conversations over the coming weeks, so do make sure you have subscribed to our newsletter and stay tuned!