Micro-Editorial: Policy Edition
The time has come to give to One Health its dimension in our societies, not only on the scientific ground but also on the social and political grounds.
On the scientific level, One Health is centuries old, born from a few scattered ideas, such as Hippocrates' treatise of "Airs, Waters, Places", to the concept of "One Medicine", where human physicians and veterinarians appeared ultimately to unite in one "single health" with a defined perimeter. This ensemble emerges in the 21st century under the term of “One Health”, which defines, beyond medicine and other health concerns, a system, a paradigm, bringing together in a single thought and practice the concepts of a health of humans, animals, and their environments, in an interdependent set.
Soon after its emergence, it is the inclusive concept of an "Environmental Health" that opens another envelope to the paradigm of One Health. Indeed, beyond the biotic (plant and animal kingdoms) and abiotic (climate, physical geography) environments, it is the human environments that are essential, driver for One Health engagements, those of the social sciences and humanities, and, in fine, political science. We are there!
This most recent chapter of human sciences has accepted on one hand, zoonotic risk (directly linked to the human-animal interface), and on the other, the notion of food hygiene largely dependent on the environment (food resource, behavior, and seasons). Historically, this latter concept of nutrition was developed and widely practiced by Hindu medicine, as listed in the Atharvaveda (1200 BC), and by Chinese Medicine (2800 BC).
Knowing and understanding One Health can only exist with the support of society and sustainable research funding at academic and other scientific institutions. In order for these funding opportunities to be in place, in the broader concert of sources of research funding, it is therefore necessary to educate the public and politicians, and to ensure that laws (and the budget) are passed to make this innovative approach of One Health a framework for future science policy.
To support this vision, one of the main arguments was that a holistic approach to health had become a necessity in our environments and societies that are changing and evolving on a scale never seen, nor lived before. Therefore, it became very clear to politicians and the public that this approach largely underpinned the well-understood economy of disease prevention.
In this OHNL issue, you will find several concrete examples of this path recently completed in the field of One Health management at the highest level of the state. Jason Orr presents on how at the State level, public health policies, and National Foundational Public Health Services interact. Justin Kastner presents on how the two worlds of human and animal medicine successfully interacted to solve major public health threats. We will read about the long and sinuous process of the United States Congress, by Bernadette Dunham and Bruce Kaplan, to move forward legislation on One Health in the United States. Becky Stuteville analyzes how changes in the rank of importance in the U.S. government’s agenda may lead to additional policy change.
As in the past, when a new idea arrives into practice in the scientific communities, it takes time and advocacy - it will be remembered that the concept of "emerging disease" followed that of "hemorrhagic fever" and which still precedes that of "high consequence pathogen" has been extended over more than two decades. The passing of time is necessary to see the practices of research, development, and concertation installed. As meetings, workshops, and international congresses are coordinated, the academy participates with its university programs, publications are organized, lobbies are prepared, and budgets are finally available.
Over the past year, the European Commission has offered a target budget for One Health research dedicated to zoonotic diseases. At the close of 2018, we saw that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) identified significant funding to promote the One Health approach among scientific communities in low- and middle-income partner countries.
Over the past decade, the “One Health” concept was the emerging paradigm. Now, we are seeing the horizon of "One Global Health", but this is another story!
Next story: Modernizing the Public Health System