Sunday, December 5, 2021

One Health Consortium to make efforts for human, animal, environmental health

The Department of Biotechnology, under the Ministry of Science and Technology, has launched ‘One Health Consortium’, a project that would carry surveillance of important bacterial, viral and parasitic infections of zoonotic as well as transboundary pathogens in India, including the North-eastern part of the country.

The country’s first “One Health’ consortium, aims at reducing the risk of a pandemic in the future and making efforts towards holistic health development of human beings, animals, and the environment.

What is the One Health Consortium?

The One Health Consortium consists of 27 organizations led by the DBT-National Institute of Animal Biotechnology, Hyderabad. It is one of the biggest One health programs launched by the Government of India during the post-COVID times.

Why the consortium?

The One Health Consortium has been launched to focus on the need for a holistic approach to understand the health of humans, animals, and wildlife to minimize the damage caused by future pandemics. Furthermore, to understand the spread of emerging diseases, the project calls for the use of existing diagnostic tests and the development of additional methodologies when required are mandated for the surveillance.

In addition to carrying surveillance of pathogens, the project would also initiate the collaborative efforts of stakeholders towards animals, humans, and environmental health. This is so because contracting a disease is not only a threat health-wise, but its impact can also be seen on the family, livelihood, and economy of the household and the country at large.

The consortium consists of AIIMS, Delhi, AIIMS Jodhpur, IVRI, Bareily, GADVASU, Ludhiana, TANUVAS, Chennai, MAFSU, Nagpur, Assam agricultural and veterinary university, ICAR, and several other centres of ICMR and wildlife agencies.

Background

“Man is not an isolated animal and acquires diseases from animals who are also nestled in their environment.”
– Union Health Minister, Mansukh Mandaviya

With the recent challenges posed to life and the economy around due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the government wants to leave no stone unturned to ensure the health safety of the people. Furthermore, two-thirds of all present diseases have their origin in animals.

Recently, the Government also released the ‘National Action Plan’ that aims at reducing and preventing human diseases caused due to human-animal interaction. Similarly, the ‘One Health’ project becomes relevant in governing, preventing, and containing infectious zoonotic diseases throughout the world.

Animals have the potential of causing transmissible diseases. Since human beings often interact with animals in their environment, they are prone to diseases caused by animals. However, only a holistic approach to health keeping in mind human-animal interaction and their broader interaction with the environment can help alleviate such challenges.

Further, environmental factors such as rainfall, heat-wave, cold conditions, etc can also contribute to the trajectory of the pathogen and the disease which calls for more research and greater awareness in this area.

Meanwhile, the risk of infectious agents capable of jumping the barriers of species is increasing, mainly because of the potential of novel infectious agents to spread rapidly around the globe due to increased travel, food habits, and trade across borders. Such diseases have devastating impacts on animals, humans, health systems, and economies, requiring years of social and economic recovery.

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