One Health is a transdisciplinary concept to improve the well-being of humans, animals, plants and the environment. It recognizes how the health of each individual element contributes to the health of the whole and shows how obvious impacts in one area – for example, outbreaks of wildlife diseases – are often linked to environmental stress, as well as diseases that concurrently affect the health and wellbeing of other species. For instance, read how the disappearance of ducks in northern Nigeria helped human health officials investigate unexplained illness among children in nearby villages.
It is no surprise, then, that One Health advocates believe our environmental, animal and human health organizations and professions must collaborate effectively and take actions to promote healthy humans and healthy animals supported by a healthy and sustainable environment. The Pennsylvania One Health Task Force supports this line of thinking by assembling a group of federal, state and academic stakeholders to work together, with one vision.
In recognition of each stakeholder’s mission and its contribution to the One Health concept, the task force articulates a clear mission:
To bring professions, stakeholders and citizens together in multiple ways to share knowledge, find common ground, refine planning and policies and take actions to coordinate definitive gains in human, animal, plant and ecosystem health.
Primary areas of focus include diseases of concern to both humans and animals – called zoonoses – and the interconnections between human, animal, plant and environmental health issues. While they may be underappreciated because of their subtlety, these areas of overlap tell us volumes about health in all of its facets and how to address issues of major concern.
All of these issues have complex histories. They also have many implications for the well-being of all elements of our environment, including ourselves. And to give these issues the undivided attention they deserve, the One Health Task Force aims to create communication pathways where experts from all fields can offer key information to decision makers, researchers and other critical stakeholders. Most importantly, however, the task force aims to create a healthier Pennsylvania – from the earth that inspires and nourishes us, to the food we produce, to the animals we share our homes with, and finally to our families and ourselves. Because our very lives depend upon protecting One Health.