With the introduction of the National One Health Mission, India has taken the first step towards building a one-health approach to preventing future pandemics. According to the World Health Organisation, “One Health” is an “integrated, unifying approach to balancing and optimising the health of people, animals, and the environment,” a concept that recognises the inextricable link between human, animal, and environmental health. In recent decades, the emergence of different diseases transmissible from animal to human (Zoonotic disease), such as rabies, Nipah virus, and others, has served as an indicator for us to accelerate efforts and implement the One Health framework.
Background of National One Health Mission of India
In 2010, the WHO, WOAH, and FAO created the Tripartite collaboration plan, which acknowledged a shared responsibility in addressing health risks at the human-animal (domestic and wild)-environment interface. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) officially joined the Tripartite in March 2022 to form a Quadripartite organisation. This organisation then released The One Health Joint Plan of Action with the aim of developing a framework to integrate systems and practises in response to the COVID-19 epidemic and the growing global climate problem.
India, with its diversified wildlife, one of the largest animal herds, and high human population density, poses heightened hazards for disease inter-compartmental dissemination. India joined the effort in 2004 with the launch of The Integrated Disease Surveillance Project, which has generated several data on the flow of certain disease outbreaks, but the programme has been unable to integrate human and animal (livestock and wildlife) surveillance. In its 21st meeting, the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology, and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC) approved the establishment of a National One Health Mission with a cross-ministerial effort to coordinate, support, and integrate all existing One Health activities in the country and fill gaps where appropriate.
The following specific efforts will be undertaken with the help of 14 government stakeholders and several other international & national partners:
1) Building early warning systems and integrating information from various surveillance programs, and clinical and epidemiological data from multiple agencies.
2) Creating Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) or outbreak response teams at various levels with a defined operational framework for regular disease control activities to target both endemic and emerging diseases.
3) Development of critical disease prevention tools such as vaccines, diagnostics, therapeutics etc.
4) Integration of data and databases for improved departmental information sharing.
5) Investment in data-driven decision-making techniques across several areas, such as disease modelling, AI/ML, and real-time dashboards.
6) Enable research in one health by streamlining regulatory approvals for quick decision-making and streamlining study approval processes across sectors.
7) Improving capacity building for health professionals, veterinarians, and researchers
8) Establish a network of sentinel-based environmental surveillance systems that can monitor disease transmission in real time and are linked to other data sources that can help us better understand the dynamics of disease transmission. Sentinels include things like sewage, vectors (including mosquitoes, ticks, and rodents), milk, gathering places like cattle markets and watering holes, abattoir effluents, and entrance points like airports.
9) Implementing integrated disease surveillance within and across human, animal, and environmental sectors to address communicable diseases of zoonotic, transboundary animal diseases and diseases of epidemic/pandemic potential.
1) With one of the highest densities of livestock and a poorly protected animal-human interface, India is particularly susceptible to zoonotic disease outbreaks and more likely to become a hot spot for Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID).
2) Climate change is altering the distribution and abundance of vectors through rising temperatures and precipitation patterns, which is contributing to the rise of vector-borne diseases.
3) The interaction between people, livestock, and animals is exacerbated by anthropogenic changes in land use, such as unsustainable agriculture, the construction of linear infrastructure, logging, mining, hunting, and collection of forest produce.
3) Wildlife is responsible for more than 70% of zoonotic diseases, including AIDS/HIV and the Ebola virus, according to The Lancet. The wildlife trade in India has become more complex, and global trading in live animals and their products has increased, creating significant threats to human and animal health.
4) According to studies, zoonotic diseases account for 60% of novel diseases that have the potential to infect people. Antibiotic-treated diseases are likely to fail because microorganisms have developed resistance to those treatments as a result of antibiotic misuse and overuse in animals and humans, a process known as Antimicrobial Resistance(AMR).
India consumes 3% of the world’s total amount of antibiotics given to animals raised for food, placing it on the fourth place globally. The prevalence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has dramatically increased during the past few decades. AMR alone kills more people than cancer and car accidents combined, according to the International Journal of One Health, with 700,000 people losing their battle with it each year and an additional 10 million anticipated to do so by 2050.For the multisectoral parts of One Health (Zoonotic and Antimicrobial Resistance) to be implemented successfully, there needs to be regulation of overuse in animals, substantial over-the-counter drug usage, ignorance regarding antibiotic use, and drug sales practises.
Principal Scientific Adviser One Health,7th August 2022.
Debanjana Dey,One Health: What it is & how it can be implemented in India,12th July 2022.
Shruti Sharma,How WHO’s “One Health”Program can help India Tackle Monkeypox,8th August 2022
World Health Organisation,One Health,21st September 2017
Juhi Raut, Abhishek Joshi, Abhay Mudey and Ashok M.Mehendale,The Past,Present,and Future of One Health in India:A Narrative Review, September 10,2023
The Lancet: Advancing One human–animal–environment Health for
global health security: what does the evidence say?, January 19,2023
Nambiar P (2020) India to envision One Health movement for confronting emerging health threats: From concept to approach towards institutionalisation , Int. J. One Health.
Disclaimer: All views expressed in the article belong solely to the author and not necessarily to the organisation.
Acknowledgement : The author would like to thank Trisha Shivdasan, Rehmat Arora and Nitya Kuchimanchi for their kind comments and suggestions to improve the article.
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