Experts call for a “One Health” approach

Islamabad: Emphasizing the need for a holistic approach to dealing with health-related challenges, including mental and physical illnesses, experts said that climate change, environmental degradation and population growth are some of the -one of the critical issues that must be addressed as a matter of priority.

These views were expressed during a virtual seminar on “Our Planet, Our Health”, hosted here by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).

Dr Rizwan Taj, Dean and Director General of the Federal Institute of Medical Education at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, said mental health comes first as it is extremely important for normal physical health. Thus, all the SDGs directly impact mental health. He pointed out that a comprehensive policy of prevention and diagnosis encompassing all members of society can help cure people of mental health problems.

The Vice Chancellor of the Academy of Health Services, Dr. Shahzad Ali Khan, was of the view that environmental degradation resulting from the cutting of trees is not just an environmental problem, but that it also leads to complications for human health.

He said unplanned or poorly planned urbanization leads to slums and ultimately creates communicable and non-communicable diseases among human beings. He added that the nation’s health can be improved through a multi-sector approach and discussing the issue in various forums.

Dr. Iqrar Ahmad Khan, Vice Chancellor of the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, stressed the need to adopt the “One Health” approach, which includes all the ingredients such as food and water conservation . He added that population growth has also exacerbated the food situation which is causing malnutrition and stunting.

Dr Khalid Saeed, regional adviser for mental health at the World Health Organization, said these risks had increased by 50% alongside slow-moving threats such as water shortages and food insecurity, creating a direct impact on human health.

Prioritizing mental health policies and integrating them with other policies at the national level is the need for an hour, he said and called for a global commitment to the SDGs and a commitment to the Accord of Paris on climate change, because mental health is directly linked to climate change.

Dr Muhammad Imran, a microbiologist at Faisalabad University of Agriculture, said plastic particles in food are not only toxic to the human body but also dangerous to the planet and other creatures.

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