Global Organizations Join Forces to Address One Health Issues

May 31, 2018
Kerry Lengyel

A new agreement between 3 global health care organizations aims to address a multitude of One Health concerns, from combatting antimicrobial resistance to improving disease forecasting capabilities.

Several global organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), are working tirelessly to address One Health risks and issues. And now, a newly signed agreement to formalize and strengthen the cooperation among these 3 powerhouses hopes to prove that there is indeed strength in numbers.

The FAO, OIE, and WHO signed a Memorandum of Understanding today, creating a stronger partnership to address today’s One Health concerns.

Combatting Antimibrobial Resistance

"The threat of antimicrobial resistance affects humans, animals, and our ecosystem,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, said. “That's why the tripartite partnership of WHO, FAO, and OIE is so vital. Working together is the only way to avoid the huge human, social, economic, and environmental costs of antimicrobial resistance."

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The 3 organizations have already been working together on various tactics to combat antimicrobial resistance, including:

  • Creating global systems for antimicrobial resistance surveillance and use of antimicrobials
  • Developing a global antimicrobial stewardship program
  • Building a monitoring and evaluation framework for the Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance
  • Adapting and updating the current comprehensive framework of international standards on responsible and prudent use of antimicrobials

Under the new agreement, these organizations will also focus on developing a voluntary code of conduct to reinforce implementation of the international standards for antimicrobials.

Improving Disease Forecasting

The partner groups will also concentrate on improving disease forecasting capabilities. FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva, PhD, explained that over 60% of existing and emerging pathogens affecting humans originate in animals, and 75% of these from wildlife.

“We cannot deal with human health, animal health, and ecosystem health in isolation—we have to look at them together and address them together,” Dr. Graziano da Silva said. “This partnership pools the unique expertise of each organization and brings their combined weight to bear to do just that, via a ‘One Health’ approach.”

Several joint activities were laid out in the new agreement for more informed and quicker responses to emerging and endemic zoonotic diseases. including:

  • Improving interagency collaboration in foresight analysis, risk assessment, preparedness building, and joint responses to emerging, remerging, and neglected infectious diseases
  • Addressing food safety challenges in the context of reinforcing food security
  • Promoting coordinated research and development to achieve a common understanding of the highest priority zoonotic diseases and the research and development needed to prevent, detect, and control them

Collaboration Can Save Lives

Although individual problems vary, every country around the globe faces the same challenges when it comes to One Health issues and risks, meaning that this collaboration can, in fact, save lives.

“This shows that the One Health approach is not just a concept,” OIE Director-General Monique Eloit, DVM, said, “it’s a daily reality that we build together through the development and the implementation of an ambitious working programs focused on our common priorities.”