Micro-Editorial: OHNL – Pandemic
Learning from the current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, it is essential, to anticipate and prevent future outbreaks. As borders, languages, and politics have been mobilized, diverse sectors – such as trade, industry, politics, finances, social sciences, border regulations, and global economies – have taken action to fight the pandemic for societal benefit. It is remarkable that along with the immense dedication of all key sectors of societies – namely “essential” – virtual communication systems have played a unique role in productively linking all these areas.
On January 30, 2020, when COVID-19 was declared as an outbreak of global health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO), several countries opened a direct dialogue with scientists to find immediate solutions for disease containment, fearing that they would soon be facing a rapid and unexpected spread of this disease. Moreover, this WHO declaration identified the Chinese outbreak of COVID-19 as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern “posing a high risk to countries with vulnerable health systems”. We rapidly discovered that all countries were vulnerable and underprepared.
An official WHO Public Health Emergency declaration, referred to as a “serious, sudden, unusual epidemic beyond national borders that requires immediate international action”, demonstrated that, at a global level, there has been an existing alarm bell for several decades. This happened during the 2009 H1N1 (or swine flu) pandemic, the 2014 poliomyelitis declaration for eradication, the 2014 outbreak of Ebola in Western Africa, the 2015 Zika virus epidemic, the 2018 Kivu Ebola epidemic, and today, the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, several WHO member countries have limited resources and may be unable to respond effectively during a time of crisis.
From research with high consequence pathogens associated with worldwide epidemics, solutions have been proposed to respond to and control the emerging threat of COVID-19. Depending on the existing national health systems, implementation and response measures have been variable across accompanying health stakeholders. With the numerous pandemics that have affected humanity over time, we have forgotten lessons learned from history. We must remember that the response against these scourges is not strictly medical, but that health and wellbeing is a complex balance between civil society, policy makers, and health systems that must be considered as a whole, with the recognition that all sectors of our societies are dragging in its wake.
In the face of the current pandemic with its immediate and long-term consequences, it is clear that an effective response was necessary. This response required the consideration of existing interconnections between human, animal, and environmental health with integrated efforts from the societal environments of politics and economics at large. This is where the foundation of all sectors supporting One Health can respond and mitigate the multiple consequences of a pandemic. The dynamic nature of the One Health approach is well recognized, given the mobility and persistent growth of our societies as well as other emerging factors, such as climate change and the ruthless reduction of biodiversity.
In this issue of the One Health Newsletter, the articles provide examples of intercommunication that exists between the different sectors of our societies. In “Fighting the Spread of Disease With…Words?”, Justin Kastner, Megan Eppler, Valerie Jojola-Mount, Ellyn Mulcahy, Phutsadee Sanwisate and Kate Schoenberg show that understanding the transmission of information and communication tremendously help in combating the spread of disease. With “A Beginner’s Guide to Pandemic”, Valerie Jojola-Mount gives her perspective as a graduate student in public health on pandemics along with book and movie recommendations on this topic. Marc Souris and Jean-Paul Gonzalez present, “What are the Strategies for An Efficient Response?”, introducing us to the complex process for today's societies of how to best protect people and preserve the economy. Furthermore, in “Pandemic and Economy”, Guy Bonnin and Jean-Paul Gonzalez gives us an in-depth understanding of the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on French society. In the search for solutions and lessons, Jean-Paul Gonzalez, Bien-Aime Mandja, Megan Eppler and Marc Souris tell a story of a One Health approach when a pandemic threatens in “Pandemic: Learning from the past, be prepared for the future”. In “Covid-19 a typical emerging disease: Lessons from Senegal,” Massamba Sylla brings us another lesson, this time from West Africa, when he details how Senegal is once again preparing for this emerging disease. Finally, in “Using NASA’s Earth Observations to Predict, Monitor, and Respond to Vector-borne and Water-related Disease”, Dorian Janney explains how satellites are used to help monitor ecosystem changes that can influence the spread of vector-borne and water-related diseases globally. We hope that readers of this edition are left with a greater appreciation of the response to global pandemics in the context of One Health. Only time will tell what lessons we have learned from the current situation of COVID-19. Stay well and be safe.
One Health Newsletter
The One Health Newsletter is a collaborative effort by a diverse group of scientists and health professionals committed to promoting One Health. This newsletter was created to lend support to the One Health Initiative and is dedicated to enhancing the integration of animal, human, and environmental health for the benefit of all by demonstrating One Health in practice.
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