One Health | Overview, Quick Facts and Resources

‘One Health’ is built on a simple understanding – that animal health, human health and our shared environment are part of a deeply interconnected system

Whatever harms or benefits one leg of the stool will ultimately affect the others. 

Outbreaks of diseases like Ebola or SARS show how quickly a disease originating in animals can tip over into a threat to the human population. Research also shows that people can just as easily spark a flu outbreak in animals.

One Health provides a framework to develop solutions to these challenges. Instead of treating humans, animals or our environment separately, we explore their inter-connectivity.

When a child in East Africa or South India is stricken with rabies, the cost of treatments can be enormous. However, for a disease with 100% fatality rate if untreated, it’s necessary.

There is a better way though. Rabies is typically transmitted through dog bites. By vaccinating these dogs and caring for their health, we ultimately save the lives of people. 

One Health also offers fresh ideas for addressing antimicrobial resistance. Plans which simultaneously and proportionally tackle the problem in animals and humans have a far better chance of success. It’s why research found AMR solutions which only address animal use have little impact on the problem.

This is One Health -- creating solutions that recognize and take advantage of the inter-connectivity between humans, animals and the environment. 

Animal medicines are essential in this interrelated, ‘domino effect’ perspective on global health, and collaboration between the human and animal health sectors is necessary to solve our shared problems. By sharing data, best practice and innovation to mutual benefit, we can build a better understanding of these problems and our potential to solve them. 

This kind of collaboration has led to the successful control of deadly disease outbreaks. In future, we need experts in both sectors to work hand-in-hand to prevent disease outbreaks across species and address the root cause of their spread.

Quick Facts

  • Animal research leads to breakthroughs in human health: Research into Bovine Papilloma Virus eventually led to development of a human HPV (human papiloma virus) vaccine, which is now administered to countless children worldwide and protects against cervical cancer.
  • Protecting animals protects people: Just 13 zoonoses, diseases which can be transferred from animals to people and vice-versa, are responsible for 2.4 billion cases of human illness and 2.2 million deaths per year. Stopping zoonoses in animals safeguards our health.
  • Zoonotics are growing:  3/4ths of new, emerging diseases come from animals,  however, most are from wildlife. Improved monitoring and management of wildlife can help researchers better anticipate transmission before it occurs.
  • AMR requires One Health solutions: A research team from University of Edinburgh recently tested a theory: "what would happen if we simply reduced antibiotics in animals, but not in people, to address AMR?" Their results: "curtailing the volume of antibiotics consumed by food animals has, as a stand-alone measure, little impact on the level of resistance in humans."  Their findings show why One Health must be at the center of AMR solutions.