- Armament and disarmament
- Conflict, peace and security
- Peace and development
Davos, Switzerland initially seems an unlikely place for a conference on the relationship between animal and human health, but actually is quite a fitting venue. From the mid-18th Century onwards, the Swiss mountain air was recommended for patients suffering from lung diseases and many of the hotels were once tuberculosis sanatoria (Think Thomas Mann’s Magic Mountain).
Tuberculosis is just one of many diseases that can jump from animals to humans; for example, transmission can occur from cows to humans via unpasteurised milk. The complex relationship amongst animal health, human health, agriculture and food security were the topic of a forum on the One Health movement your blogger attended recently in Davos. This movement encapsulates the idea that research and policy need to take a integrated ecosystem approach—just think about responses to bird flu and swine flu. Currently, global efforts are being spearheaded by a tripartite collaboration amongst the World Health Organization, the Food and Agricultural Organization and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). A few facts:
This all seems like common sense, but operationalising the One Health movement presents myriad challenges. Although WHO, FAO and the OIE are working well together at a global level, there is not sufficient involvement of the trade sector (via the World Trade Organization and the International Labour Organization). Also, on a national level responses involve collaboration amongst ministries of health, agriculture and trade—which is difficult in countries where ministries acts like fiefdoms. Traditionally, veterinary medicine and human medicine have been separate, along with surveillance systems for animal and human diseases. Within the development sector, as well, international aid streams and non-governmental organizations can be very siloed in their work.
At the very least, however, there is greater awareness of these linkages and there has been much progress on collaboration and information sharing in recent years—offering a good base for expanding One Health.