Human and animal health are symbiotic.
As the population increases and demand for food grows, and with people and animals living closer together, the interdependence of human health and animal health, and the health our shared environment health is without question.
This is known as One Health. The role of animal medicines in delivering healthy animals is globally recognised as a contributor to the One Health triad comprising human, animal and environmental health. As a key player in One Health, AnimalhealthEurope is supporting collaboration between all disciplines to ensure optimal health for all.
The idea behind ‘One Health’ is not a new one; the influence of the environment on health has been recognised for many years. However, a rapidly growing global population means that the world is increasingly crowded and that humans will inevitably live closer to the animals they rely upon. Other factors, including large-scale migration and global warming, risk introducing new diseases to regions where they were previously unknown and potentially unprepared. Under these conditions, the ability to prevent such diseases spreading becomes increasingly important and dialogue between sectors is essential.
Of the near 1,500 human diseases, almost two-thirds of them are zoonotic, meaning they can be transferred from animal to man. Such diseases can be serious; rabies, toxoplasmosis and Lyme disease are all examples of zoonoses. Perhaps more worryingly, around three-quarters of emerging human infectious diseases - including avian influenza, Ebola and Zika virus - during the last three decades have been zoonotic, mostly stemming from wildlife.
By protecting animal health the animal health industry helps protect against the transmission of animal-borne diseases and new zoonoses. But it also helps to protect an essential food source. Food safety is a key element of One Health. Healthy animals contribute both to safe food and our food security.
‘One Health’ policies and strategies, strongly encouraged by the animal health sector, mean that different disciplines work collaboratively on local, national and global levels to try to balance the complex interactions between human, animal and environmental health. It is an approach that the European Commission is actively promoting within the EU, encouraging collaboration between sectors that can shape health.
Our members are playing a key role in making this One Health approach a reality, developing solutions such as vaccines and vaccine banks to help contain or control disease spread and other treatments to control the insects that can transmit many of these illnesses amongst animals.
The new EU Regulation on Transmissible Animal Diseases, which was adopted in March 2016, recognises the important role animal health plays in Europe. It puts in place a single overarching legal framework of standards for animal and public health in the EU and prioritises animal diseases, clarifies the responsibilities of the different actors responsible to ensure animal health, and outlines the measures to be taken to combat emerging diseases, placing a firm emphasis on prevention.
Healthy animals mean healthy people and a healthier planet.