A “One Health” approach that targets people, animals

Battle against COVID-19 should also be used as an opportunity to achieve India’s ‘One Health’ goals

The father of modern pathology, Rudolf Virchow, pointed out in 1856 that there are essentially no dividing lines between animal medicine and human medicine. This concept is increasingly salient as the world continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Discussions around World Veterinary Day, April 24, 2021, focused on recognizing the interdependence of animals, humans and the environment, an approach called “One Health”.

Beyond the cash barrier

Studies indicate that more than two-thirds of existing and emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic, or can be transferred between animals and humans, and vice versa, when the pathogen in question originates from any life form but bypasses the barrier. cash. Another category of diseases, “anthropozoonotic” infections, are spread from humans to animals. The cross-border impact of viral epidemics of recent years such as Nipah virus, Ebola, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Avian Flu has further reinforced the need for us to systematically document the links between the environment, animals and human health.

The setting, the plans of India

India’s One Health Vision is modeled on the agreement between the Tripartite-Plus Alliance comprising the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Health Organization. Animal Health (OIE), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) – a global initiative supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Bank global as part of the overarching goal of contributing to “One World, One Health”.

In line with long-term goals, India established a National Standing Committee on Zoonoses as early as the 1980s. And this year, funds were provided for the establishment of a “One Health Center” in Nagpur. In addition, the Department of Livestock and Dairy Production (DAHD) has launched several programs to mitigate the prevalence of animal diseases since 2015, with a 60:40 type funding model (Center: State); 90:10 for the Northeastern States and 100% funding for the Union Territories. Therefore, under the National Animal Disease Control Program, 13,343 crore has been sanctioned for the control of foot-and-mouth disease and brucellosis. In addition, DAHD will soon be setting up a “One Health” unit within the ministry.

In addition, the government is making efforts to reorganize programs focused on building the capacity of veterinarians and improving the animal health diagnostic system, such as Assistance to States for Animal Disease Control (ASCAD). In the revised component of assistance to States / Union Territories, more emphasis is placed on vaccination against diseases of livestock and backyard poultry. To this end, assistance will be extended to State organic production units and to disease diagnostic laboratories.

The WHO estimates that rabies (also a zoonosis) costs the global economy around $ 6 billion a year. Considering that 97% of human rabies cases in India are attributed to dogs, interventions for the management of the disease in dogs are considered crucial. The DAHD has partnered with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare within the framework of the National Action Plan for the Elimination of Canine Rabies. This initiative is geared towards sustained mass vaccination of dogs and public education to make the country free from rabies.

Need for coordination

Scientists have observed that there are over 1.7 million viruses circulating in wildlife, and many of them are likely zoonotic, implying that unless detected early, India is at risk. to deal with many other pandemics in the times to come. To achieve the goals of the “One Health” vision, efforts are underway to address challenges related to veterinary workforce shortages, lack of information sharing between human and animal health institutions and inadequate food safety coordination at slaughter, distribution and retail facilities. These problems can be addressed by strengthening existing animal health and disease surveillance systems – for example, the Animal Productivity and Health Information Network and the National Animal Disease Reporting System – by developing guidelines. on best practices for the informal functioning of markets and slaughterhouses (eg inspections, disease prevalence assessments) and the creation of mechanisms to operationalize “One Health” at every stage down to the village level. Now, as we fight a new wave of deadly zoonosis (COVID-19), raising awareness and increasing investments to achieve One Health goals is the need of the hour.

Atul Chaturvedi is Secretary, Ministry of Livestock and Dairy Production. Opinions expressed are personal


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