What is the One Health approach?
Living organisms and ecosystems are interconnected and the health of one depends on the health of the other. One Health takes these complex relationships into account as part of a holistic approach to health issues. This includes the health of animals, plants and human beings, as well as environmental disturbances caused by human activity.
What challenges does this approach address?
At least 60% of infectious human diseases are of animal origin. Many of the epidemics that have emerged in recent years, such as those caused by the COVID-19, Zika and Ebola viruses, have originated in animals.
Human activity plays a major role in the spread of these infectious animal and human diseases. The growth in the world's population and in the number of domestic animals combined with the increase in transport have facilitated the spread of pathogens. At the same time, environmental degradation, deforestation and the development of cities worldwide have promoted contact between wild animals, farm animals and humans, enabling diseases to be transmitted more readily.
Lastly, the climate change we are facing is one of the indicators of sustained environmental degradation and makes it easier, for example, for animal vectors of pathogens to adapt to new geographical areas. Therefore, vector-borne diseases are having an increasing impact on the economy and public health. This has been reflected in the emergence of new pathogens in Europe, such as bluetongue virus and Schmallenberg virus, which affects ruminants, and in the 30-fold increase in human cases of dengue fever in various regions of the world.
The objective of the One Health approach is to encourage collaboration between stakeholders in the areas of public, animal, plant and environmental health. It also aims to bring together experts in human and social sciences, particularly economics, to tackle various issues in an interdisciplinary manner, taking account of human activities.
How old is the One Health approach?
Although the principle has been around for longer, the One Health concept has been promoted since the early 2000s. It has grown in line with the increasing awareness of the close links between human health, animal health and the overall state of the environment and the need to decompartmentalise health approaches.
In particular, it gave rise to a tripartite agreement signed in 2010 by the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
What does ANSES do to promote One Health?
ANSES's missions encompass animal, plant and human health, from the perspective of environmental health and food safety. The One Health approach is therefore an integral part of its work.
Below are four examples of ANSES’s flagship areas of work pertaining to One Health:
- Vectors: some insects and mites transmit pathogens to humans, animals or plants. The Agency's work focuses in particular on emerging pests and the impact of climate change on vectors.
- Zoonoses: many of the pathogens on which ANSES works can be transmitted from animals to humans and vice versa. This is the case, for example, for avian and swine influenza viruses, bovine tuberculosis, brucellosis, numerous parasites, coronaviruses, etc.
- Antimicrobial resistance: the Agency monitors and studies antibiotic-resistant bacteria in animals and food. It also monitors the use of veterinary antimicrobials. This work contributes to the worldwide fight against antimicrobial resistance.
- Bee health: many different factors affect the health of bees, including pathogens, predators, biodiversity, environmental changes, nutritional conditions and exposure to plant protection products.
- Plant health: plant parasites, plants that compete with crops and invasive plants not only jeopardise the health of infected plants, crop yields and biodiversity in natural environments. They can also be harmful to human health, by causing respiratory diseases or allergies or having urticating or toxic properties.
Work projects dedicated to One Health
The Agency is involved in two main programmes dealing with One Health that mobilise several of its teams' research projects:
- the European Joint Programme (EJP) on One Health (2018-2023): coordinated by ANSES, this programme brings together 44 partners from 19 European countries. It aims to acquire new knowledge in the areas of foodborne zoonoses, antimicrobial resistance and emerging infectious risks. It has funded 31 scientific projects.
- DIM1Health (2017-2021) and DIM1Health 2.0 (2021-2030): this field of major interest (DIM) is funded by the Ile-de-France Region. It was initiated by ANSES and brings together several animal and human health research teams in the region. The Agency continues to be extensively involved in this project.