Organizations, universities promoting One Health efforts

One Health is a collaborative, transdisciplinary approach that recognizes that human health is closely related to animal health and our shared environment. As human populations grow and expand into new geographic areas, people live in closer contact with wild and domestic animals, which has a higher impact on our interactions. In addition, climate and land use changes have disrupted environmental conditions and habitats, with new opportunities for disease spread. One Health is effectively fighting these health issues to prevent zoonotic disease outbreaks, improve food safety and security, reduce antibiotic resistance, protect global health security, and improve overall human and animal health. Successful interventions require communication and collaboration by human, animal, and environmental health partners. The following article details how these partners are coordinating to promote One Health. 

One Health organizations

Organizations led by field experts represent the One Health industry to encourage involvement and facilitate collaborative programs and research. The following four organizations work together as a One Health Quadripartite:

  • World Health Organization (WHO) — Headquartered in Geneva, WHO has more than 150 worldwide offices to improve local health systems and coordinate global health threat responses. The organization’s team consists of the world’s leading health experts, including physicians, epidemiologists, scientists, and managers.
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) — The FAO is a United Nations specialized agency with the goal of ensuring food security and regular access to enough high-quality food for everyone to lead active, healthy lives.
  • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) — UNEP addresses climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution to deliver transformational change. Their mission is to provide leadership and encourage environmental care that will enable people to improve their quality of life without compromising future generations.
  • World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) — Founded in 1924 as the Office International des Epizooties (OIE), the WOAH is an intergovernmental organization whose focus is transparently disseminating information about animal diseases to help build a safer, healthier, and more sustainable world by improving global animal health.

One Health initiatives

Many organizations and universities have launched One Health initiatives to help promote awareness and research. Programs include:

  • World Health Organization (WHO) — The WHO One Health initiative acts as the administrative office for the One Health High-Level Expert Panel (OHHLEP), which was formed in 2021 to advise FAO, UNEP, WHO, and lWOAH. Their key objectives include:    
    - Revitalizing the One Health approach
    - Expanding One Health’s environmental approach
    - Approaching One Health as an operation that will reduce the risk and lessen the impact of future zoonotic and vector-borne disease emergence
  • Crozet BioPharm — Crozet BioPharm launched a One Health initiative to forge co-equal, all-inclusive collaborations between physicians, osteopathic physicians, veterinarians, dentists, nurses, and other scientific-health and environmentally related disciplines. Participants include the American Medical Association, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Nurses Association, American Association of Public Health Physicians, the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. National Environmental Health Association.
  • The University of Arizona — The University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health recruited Frank von Hippel, PhD, to lead their One Health Research Initiative (OHRI). Throughout their research projects, Dr. von Hippel’s research team uses a community based participatory research (CBPR) approach, which involves community members and students to engage and train the next generation of One Health public health researchers.
  • Midwestern University — Midwestern launched their One Health initiative in 2014 to integrate One Health principles and practices in existing and new curricula, research, and service activities. Their objectives include:
    - Reducing the cultural isolation typically found in professional health disciplines
    - Increasing shared resources
    - Stimulating research collaborations
    - Enhancing services to neighboring communities and societies

One Health research

Today’s health and environmental challenges are complex, and multidisciplinary research is needed to help solve these issues. One Health research investigates problems where human, animal, and environmental health intersect, using professionals from multiple disciplines at local, national, and global levels. Current One Health research topics include:

  • Brucellosis pathogenesis and transmission — Brucellosis is a bacterial disease that can be transmitted from livestock to humans, causing severe, long-lasting disease. Researchers from the University of Washington Center for One Health Research (UWCOHR) are collaborating with the Greninger Laboratory, the UW Center for Exposures, Diseases, Genomics, and Environment, and the Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheva Israel to investigate virulence determinants and spread in humans, using whole genome sequencing.
  • Contaminant exposure — The University of Arizona’s Environment, Exposure Sciences, and Risk Assessment Center (ESRAC) is researching emerging contaminants in southern Arizona and working on consumer outreach and risk communication tool development. This project is funded by Tucson Water, the National Science Foundation Water and Environmental Technology (WET) Center, and the Water Quality Research Foundation.
  • Dairy workers’ microbiome — UWCOHR is also working with the UW Pacific Northwest Center for Agricultural Safety and Health to study dairy workers’ gut and nasal microbiome, with the goal of exploring the observation that people living and working on farms report lower allergy and infection rates than urban populations. 

One Health is an important initiative for sustainable balance and optimizing the health of people, animals, and ecosystems. More research is needed to provide knowledge to implement strategies and programs that will nurture a healthier world for all living creatures.

About the author

Jenny Alonge received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Mississippi State University in 2002. She completed an internship in equine medicine and surgery at Louisiana State University and subsequently joined an equine ambulatory service in northern Virginia where she practiced for almost 17 years. Jenny later decided to make a career change in favor of more creative pursuits and accepted a job as a veterinary copywriter for Rumpus Writing and Editing in April 2021. She adopted two unruly kittens, Olive and Pops, in February 2022.

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