Chapter 1: Introduction to One Health

updated on 31 May 2022


To learn what the One Health Approach is and why it is important to disease surveillance.


Animal diseases can be a major barrier to poverty alleviation around the world, particularly in communities that lack disease surveillance infrastructure and depend on animals for daily life. As communities grow, expanding farmland and deforestation encroach on wild animal habitats, increasing the likelihood of diseases spreading from animals to humans. This is especially worrying since the majority of livestock owners practice backyard farming in close proximity to other animals and people. 

In fact, nearly 75% of emerging infectious diseases originate in animals, especially wildlife, and the principal drivers of their emergence are human activities, including changes in ecosystems and deforestation, intensification of agriculture, and urbanization.

One Health Approach

The term ‘One Health’ was first used in 2003–2004, and was associated with the emergence of severe acute respiratory disease (SARS) in 2003 and subsequently by the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 in 2009, in order to recognize the link between human and animal health and the threats that diseases pose to food supplies and economies.

One Health recognizes that the health of humans, animals and ecosystems are interconnected. It involves applying a coordinated, collaborative, multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral approach to address potential or existing risks that originate where animals, humans, and the environment intersect. 

The One Health Approach focuses on consequences, responses, and actions where animals and humans are mostly likely to come into contact. Practitioners of the One Health Approach are particularly interested in emerging and endemic zoonoses, antimicrobial resistance (AMR), and food safety.

Recognizing the importance and risk in our daily animal–human–environment interactions, we must monitor our communities with the One Health Approach for abnormal events that may signal potential problems.

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