The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) welcome the newly formed operational definition of health from their consultative panel, the Expert Panel. the One Health High Level Group (OHHLEP), whose members represent a wide range of science disciplines and policy-related One Health-related sectors around the world.
The four organizations work together to integrate One Health so that they are better prepared to prevent, anticipate, detect and respond to global health threats and promote sustainable development.
The definition of One Health, developed by OHHLEP, reads:
One health is an integrated, unifying approach that aims to balance and optimize human, animal and ecosystem health.
It recognizes that human health, domestic and wild animals, plants and the wider environment (including ecosystems) are closely linked and interdependent.
The approach mobilizes many sectors, disciplines and communities at different levels of society to work together to promote well-being and address threats to health and ecosystems, while addressing the collective need for clean water, energy and air, safe and nutritious food, such as action is being taken on climate change and contributing to sustainable development.
The importance of establishing a definition of health was first raised by OHHLEP and later agreed by the four partners to develop a common language and understanding around one health.
OHHLEP One Health’s new comprehensive definition aims to promote clear understanding and translation in sectors and areas of experience.
While health, food, water, energy and the environment are broader topics with sector-specific and specialized problems, cooperation between sectors and disciplines will contribute to health, tackling health challenges such as the emergence of infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance, and promoting the health and integrity of our ecosystems. In addition, One Health, by connecting humans, animals and the environment, can help tackle the full range of disease control – from disease prevention to detection, preparedness, response and management – and to improving and promoting health and sustainability.
The approach can be applied at Community, sub-national, national, regional and global levels and relies on shared and effective governance, communication, cooperation and coordination. Applying the One Health approach will make it easier for people to better understand the attendant benefits, risks, trade-offs and opportunities for fair and holistic decisions.
Through the combined energies of the four organizations, a comprehensive Global Action Plan for Health is being developed, supported and advised by OHHLEP. This plan aims to integrate and operationalize One Health globally, regionally and nationally; supporting countries in establishing and achieving national targets and priorities for interventions; investment mobilization; promote the whole society approach and allow for cooperation, learning and exchange between regions, countries and sectors.
As we recognize the importance of the One Health approach and welcome the OHHLEP definition of One Health, Tripartite and UNEP will continue to coordinate and implement One Health activities in line with the spirit of the new OHHLEP definition of one health.