One world, One Health, and One Medicine

One world, One Health, and One Medicine

One Health is an exciting movement to encourage wildlife, domestic animals and human health professionals to work collectively to address the world’s most challenging health issues

The last two decades witnessed the emergence of a plethora of public health challenges at the convergence of human, animal, and environmental health, including bovine spongiform encephalitis (BSE) and variant Creutzfeldt – Jakob disease, H5N1 influenza, threats of bioterrorism, SARS and the impact of climate change on global food systems. These developments have catalyzed a movement supporting “One Health”. The term ‘One Medicine’ was coined by Calvin Schwabe, the longer representation of “One World, One Health and One Medicine”. One Health is an exciting movement to encourage wildlife, domestic animals and human health professionals to work collectively to address the world’s most challenging health issues. Of the 1415 microbial diseases affecting humans, 61% are zoonotic with 13% species regarded as emerging or reemerging (Taylor et al. 2001). Among emerging infectious diseases, 75% are zoonotic with wildlife being one of the major sources of infection.

Today, the One Health approach is being increasingly accepted by numerous major international organizations like the World medical Association, the World Organization for Animal Health, the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, etc.

 One Health Day is an international campaign coordinated by One Health Commission, the One Health Initiative Autonomous pro bono team, and the One Health Platform Foundation. The One Health concept recognizes that the heath of people is connected to the health of animals and the environment. A One Health approach encourages collaborative efforts of many experts like physicians and veterinarians working across animal, human, and environmental health to improve the health of the people, animals, including pets, livestock, and wildlife. One Health is not a new concept, but it is gaining more importance in recent years due to changed interactions among animals and humans. These changes have led to the emergence and reemergence of many diseases.  A One Health approach is important as 6 out of every 10 infectious diseases in humans are spread from animals. Each year around the world it is estimated that the zoonoses (i.e., diseases shared between humans and animals) cause 2.5 billion cases of sickness and 2.7 million deaths. Thus the main aim of this collaborative mission is to protect the people around the world from emerging and zoonotic infections ranging from A to Z —Anthrax to Zika among several other potentially severe diseases like rabies, brucellosis, swine and avian influenza, West Nile fever, Rift valley fever, tuberculosis, even HIV/AIDS( considered zoonotic in origin), MERS, Ebola, etc. This collaboration would not only decrease the incidence of such diseases, but will also decrease the cost of health facilities as World Bank estimates. If the disease reaches the point of spreading among humans, the disease will have done substantial damage and it may be difficult to slow or reverse the disease, and the cost of disease control will usually rise rapidly. Thus, the effectiveness of zoonotic disease control requires early detection at the source of the disease in animals, an early and accurate diagnosis, and rapid disease control measures. Therefore, One Health, a collaborative approach finds an important place at this human-animal interface to work effectively in disease prevention. Numerous examples already exist of the success of this collaboration in One Health like in Chad, joint animal–human vaccination campaigns of DPT and polio in children and CBPP control in livestock resulted in greater coverage in both humans and livestock, and pastoralists became more aware of public health services.

In Jaipur, India, dog vaccination and sterilization resulted in a decline of human rabies cases to zero. (Whereas cases increased in other states that did not have this campaign). The population of stray dogs declined by 28 percent.

In Kyrgyzstan, public health and veterinary workers together visit farms, resulting in lower costs of surveillance for brucellosis, echinococcosis, and other zoonotic diseases.

In Canada, the integration of animal and human health facilities led to a 26 percent reduction in operation costs.

Several countries have taken this One Health initiative to cope up with avian and swine flu threats.  

Economics: The case for control of zoonotic diseases (zoonoses) is compelling. The economic losses from six major outbreaks of highly fatal zoonoses between 1997 and 2009 amounted to at least US$80 billion. The required investment in One Health Systems of US$1.9 billion to US$3.4 billion per year are substantially below the average US$6.7 billion per year in losses due to six major zoonotic disease outbreaks in 1997-2009. A 2011 report by the OECD shows that pandemics are a prime global threat. Potential losses resulting from a severe influenza pandemic, for instance, that lead to 71 million human fatalities would be US$ 3 trillion. According to World Bank estimate the potential savings through One Health initiative could range from US$184 million to US$506 million per year.(People Pathogens and our Planet , Vol 2,The economics of One Health, World Bank, 2012).

Although the One Health approach has resurfaced in recent years as strategy to address complex problems at the interface of human, animal, and environment health, little effort has been directed at working out a proper strategy necessary for success of One Health efforts. The One Health approach is an exciting movement that requires an immediate and sincere attention by the world governments and the relevant global institutions, so that the humanity at large is benefitted. Identifying a set of One Health core competencies is critical to prepare professionals to tackle the health threats of the twenty-first century by working collaboratively with professionals of other areas of expertise using One Health approach. 


Ruheel Ahmad Mir is pursuing his BVSc & A.H at SKUAST-K Shuhama, Srinagar.