UN agency chiefs issued a call on Monday for global action to balance and optimize the health of people, animals and the environment, as part of a new “One Health” approach.
The heads of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN-backed World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) have come together in the face of multiple global emergencies – from COVID-19 to Ebola – continued threats of disease spillover between animals and humans, loss of biodiversity and climate change.
In a statement, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, FAO chief QU Dongyu, UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen, and WOHA’s head, Monique Eloit, stressed the need to prioritize “One Health” approaches, to invest in building workforces with cross-sectoral skills, and to prevent health threats at the source, with close attention paid to zoonotic diseases.
A guide on how to best implement these approaches will be published later this year.
Call to action
Stressing the need for enhanced collaboration and commitment to translate the One Health approach into policy action in all countries, the Quadripartite leaders urge all countries and key stakeholders to embrace seven priorities for action:
1. Prioritize One Health in terms of the international political agenda, making it a guiding principle in global mechanisms; including the new global pandemic accord being negotiated now.
2. Strengthen national One Health policies, strategies and plans, costed and prioritized in line with the Quadripartite One Health Joint Plan of Action (OH JPA).
3. Accelerate the implementation of One Health plans, including supporting national One Health development agendas.
4. Build intersectoral One Health workforces that have the skills, capacities and capabilities to prevent, detect, control, and respond to health threats in a timely and effective way.
5. Strengthen and sustain prevention of pandemics and health threats at source, targeting activities and places that increase the risk of zoonotic spillover between animals to humans.
6. Encourage and strengthen One Health scientific knowledge and evidence creation and exchange, research and development, technology transfer and sharing new tools and data.
7. Increase investment and financing of One Health strategies and plans ensuring scaled up implementation at all levels, including funding for prevention of health threats at source.
“To build one healthier planet we need urgent action to galvanize vital political commitments, greater investment and multisectoral collaboration at every level“, the agency chiefs said.
The Quadripartite has been playing a central role in promoting and coordinating a global One Health approach, in line with the OHJPA which was launched in October last year.