The One Health Initiative team received the following welcomed letter from physician neurologists, Drs. David O. Wiebers, Valery L. Feigin and Andrea Winkler November 2, 2021:
Thank you for your kind remarks about our recent paper entitled “Brain Health, One Health and COVID-19” (DOWNLOAD FULLTEXT PDF) and for all of the outstanding work that you and your colleagues are doing with the One Health Initiative.
The ongoing COVID-19 crisis that has infected over 240 million people and resulted in over 4.9 million deaths worldwide, has brought with it an enormous amount of acute and subacute brain morbidity and the potential for producing long-term neurological morbidity in a high percentage of survivors. In the process, the pandemic has emphasized the profound interconnectedness of all life (humans, nonhumans and the earth) and the importance of approaching global brain health and overall health from a One Health perspective.
Both the prevention and optimal management of future pandemics will require an approach that is rooted in the premise that human, animal and environmental health are inextricably linked and will also require global cooperation and integration among health sciences professionals in all 3 arenas. We are likewise convinced that a One Health approach is not only beneficial for infectious diseases that affect the brain, but also for non-communicable diseases such as cerebrovascular diseases, various forms of dementia and other brain disorders.
As we mention in the paper, the emergence of novel and concerning COVID-19 variants on mink farms that can easily be transmitted to humans or other wild or domesticated animals raises the prospect that a global pandemic which was most likely put in motion by exploiting animals in live-animal markets may be extended and reinvigorated by our exploitation of animals on mink farms. Further human exploitation of nonhumans and the environment will undoubtedly continue to lead to more frequent and more severe outbreaks of zoonotic diseases with the potential to cause widespread, immense mortality as well as massive amounts of acute and long-term brain impairment. By having an overarching goal of improving the health and wellbeing of humans, nonhumans and the earth, the One Health approach can be more effective for human health and for benefitting all life forms in ways far superior to human, animal and environmental groups working in separate silos with less awareness of the impact of these various arenas upon each other.
We, as health professionals, need to be vigilant and active in helping to shape future policies, not only for the sake of our patients, but also for the urgent need of creating a perpetually habitable planet for all life. This includes discontinuing live-wildlife markets and factory farming, two activities which are among the most threatening to human health and among the most debasing to our species. It also includes our evolving as a species toward eating a much more plant-based diet, and advancing our governance structures so that they are neither rewarding activities that are destructive to the planet nor heavily prioritizing economic governance over health and environmental governance. All that we do depends upon abundant plant and animal life as well as clean air and water and what is good for nonhumans and the earth is virtually always in the best interests of humans, given the profound interdependence of all life. We call on decision-makers to make One Health the new norm across the various sectors while inventing and implementing equitable economic systems that have human, animal and environmental health at their cores.
All of this will require deft organizing, communication and leadership skills at the governmental, corporate, NGO and grassroots levels and we are convinced that the One Health Initiative has an important role to play in all of this.
With all best wishes, as always,
Emeritus Professor of Neurology
Mayo Clinic and Mayo Foundation
Rochester, Minnesota, USA.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
TOR Group and TOR Foundation
Professor of Neurology and Epidemiology
Director of the National Institute for Stroke and Applied Neurosciences
Auckland University of Technology
Auckland, New Zealand
Specialist Neurologist and Co(joint)-Director of the Centre for Global Health
Technical University of Munich
Professor of Global Health and Founding Director of the Centre for Global Health
University of Oslo