According to the interdisciplinary One Health High-Level Expert Panel (OHHLEP) established by World Health Organization (WHO) in May 2021: One Health is an integrated, unifying approach that aims to sustainably balance and optimize the health of people, animals, and ecosystems. It recognizes the health of humans, domestic and wild animals, plants, and the wider environment (including ecosystems) are closely linked and interdependent.
The approach mobilizes multiple sectors, disciplines, and communities at varying levels of society to work together to foster well-being and tackle threats to health and ecosystems, while addressing the collective need for healthy food, water, energy, and air, taking action on climate change and contributing to sustainable development.
Key underlying principles including
- equity between sectors and disciplines;
- sociopolitical and multicultural parity (the doctrine that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities) and inclusion and engagement of communities and marginalized voices;
- socioecological equilibrium that seeks a harmonious balance between human–animal–environment interaction and acknowledging the importance of biodiversity, access to sufficient natural space and resources, and the intrinsic value of all living things within the ecosystem;
- stewardship and the responsibility of humans to change behavior and adopt sustainable solutions that recognize the importance of animal welfare and the integrity of the whole ecosystem, thus securing the well-being of current and future generations; and
- transdisciplinarity and multisectoral collaboration, which includes all relevant disciplines, both modern and traditional forms of knowledge and a broad representative array of perspectives.
Some interesting examples of One Health:
- Fruit bats harbor the Nipah virus pathogen as natural hosts and carry it without any symptoms of infection or illness. In Bangladesh, local fruit bats drink a natural sugary liquid produced by palm trees: the date palm sap.
- While drinking and feeding on this sap, bat saliva and urine come into contact with the date palm sap and enter the circulation within the tree trunks. These fluids contain the Nipah virus, so now the Nipah virus is circulating within the tree.
- Just as the fruit bats, Bangladeshi people also enjoy drinking the sap. When they encroach into the wild bat ecosystems, they inevitably share the same date palm trees. Humans drink date palm sap contaminated with bat fluids infected with Nipah viruses, which can make humans sick.