One Health, One Medicine Considerations for Sustainable Development

By Satesh Bidaisee, Associate Professor of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, St. George's University
July 22, 2012

One Health, One Medicine through its different iterations all suggest a collaboration between human and animal health disciplines towards the benefit of both humans and animals. A feature of the need for human and animal health collaborations is common challenges that are shared by these two segments of the world’s environment. These common challenges include infectious diseases that are shared between humans and animals (i.e. zoonotic diseases), food (of animal origin) borne diseases that are transmitted to humans, the adverse effects of environmental contamination and degradation (loss of habitat, reduced quality of environmental resources e.g. water) for both humans and animals and the overall interference of the dynamic stability of the ecosystem which both humans and animals live and interact with. The resulting and logical thinking for the human-animal-environmental interaction is a need to promote the sustainable wellbeing for each of the human-animal-environment components not independently of each other but rather with a firm understanding of the commonalities that exist as well as the common fate that can result from the human-animal-environmental interactions.
A side discussion is occurring on the global stage in which the topic of sustainable development is articulated. This discussion focuses in the protection of the environment, stabilization of the world’s population, narrowing the gaps between rich and poor, and ending extreme poverty (Sachs, 2008). Needless to say, this anthropocentric posture adopted in the global stage bears little consideration towards the fundamental animal involvement for the sustainable development discussion. Protection of the environment requires for a sustainable approach to managing animal species in their natural environment, stabilization of the world’s human population is contingent on the management of domesticated species of animals towards food production and at the same time mitigating the consequences of emerging infectious diseases of pandemic proportions, and, narrowing the gaps between rich and poor as well as poverty speaks directly to agricultural practices and societies which tend to include animal production which are the economically neglected regions of the world.
Sustainable development to be realized therefore requires for a significant understanding and application of the One Health, One Medicine concept and the critical need for the global economic discussion to include the human and animal interactions in the environment towards the creation of a sustainable One World, One Wealth future.

Sachs J.D., 2008. Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet. The Penguin Press. New York, 2008. ISBN: 978-1-159420-127-1

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