In the ongoing fight to improve human health, the role of animal medicines in delivering healthy animals is recognised as an equal part of the One Health triad comprising human, animal and environmental health.
‘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 ensure that humans, animals and the environment can enjoy optimal health. One Health recognises and tries to balance the complex interactions between these elements.
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.
Another serious concern of these changes is the risk posed by zoonotic diseases, or zoonoses. These are diseases that can be transferred from animal to human. Of the near 1,500 pathogens that are known to infect humans, almost two-thirds of them are zoonotic. 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.
One Health is our way of addressing this challenge; 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.
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.