Systems One Health: Equitable engagement
‘One Health’ describes issues and activities at the interface between humans, animals and the environment. Effective One Health practices create greater benefits for stakeholders in these sectors, more efficiently and cost-effectively than can be achieved by working alone. One Health approaches often still put human health outcomes first, without considering additional benefits that could be achieved at the same time, such as food security, conservation and economic development.
When these additional outcomes are ignored, critical participants such as farmers, traders or marginalised or vulnerable communities, may not engage with One Health initiatives or may have their livelihood activities curtailed or even eroded by more powerful stakeholders.
Taking a ‘systems view’ of One Health will help to make One Health more equitable and sustainable. While progress is being made and expertise developed, One Health often just involves tackling a short list of diseases transmissible between humans and animals. Focusing on this list only, runs the risk of failing to detect currently unknown disease threats. A narrow focus also fails to identify and address allied issues such as improved agricultural sustainability, preservation of biodiversity or ‘green’ development. There is a need to widen One Health to achieve risk reduction, instead of just detection, of both targeted diseases and allied risks.
Systems One Health shows us the way to equitably engage multiple stakeholders and target critical control points in the human-animal-environment web to simultaneously reduce disease risk and sustain livelihoods. We are working with Asian Development Bank and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, to promote and implement these big-picture One Health approaches to Cross-sectional collaborations.