In addition to the fact that the environment/animals program area receives the smallest share of U.S. philanthropic dollars, a mere 3 percent of total giving (Giving USA), there is a lack of understanding about how the health of people, animals and their shared environment are interdependent.
Recognizing that people, animals and the environment are all linked, and that if one is damaged, the other two are bound to be affected in the short or long term, the One Health approach promotes interdisciplinary collaborations to more holistically understand and more effectively act against public health threats, such as COVID-19. Despite the importance of this multidisciplinary view, bureaucratic challenges present significant barriers to concrete and sustained implementation of One Health. Specific hurdles include professional segregation and data separation in the animal and human health communities, and evidence gaps that limit understanding of the relevance of animal and environmental health indicators to human health.
In his April 13, 2020 New York Times op-ed, philosopher and author David Benatar says that our gross mistreatment of animals led to COVID-19, and that its emergence should be of no surprise because it was entirely predictable. Benatar also states that the conditions that lead to the emergence of new infectious diseases are the same ones that inflict horrific harms on animals, and that we should fully expect our cruel treatment of animals to wreak havoc on our own species in the future.
According to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), there is an urgent need to simultaneously address the health of people and animals, recognizing that disease poses challenges to both conservation of the planet's biodiversity and efforts to improve the quality of human life. An initiator and leader in the One Health approach, WCS organized a one-day conference with the German Federal Foreign Office in Berlin on October 25, 2019: “One Planet, One Health, One Future.” The conference, which included top minds from around the globe, addressed how human development and interference with nature are generating threats to humans, livestock and wildlife.
Released at “One Planet, One Health, One Future," you can read The Berlin Principles that follow on The Manhattan Principles first developed in 2004.
Do you think that more should be done to further the One Health approach?