23 December 2022  - Departmental news  - Geneva
The G20 countries are looking for guidance from the One Health Quadripartite in operationalizing One Health (OH) approaches. In 2022, the Quadripartite supported the Indonesian G20 Presidency by developing the Lombok G20 One Health Policy Brief. Multiple consultations with governments and input from the One Health High-Level Expert Panel helped identify seven recommendations for countries to scale up this integrated approach:
  1. Raise awareness and advocacy for OH priorities
  2. Identify gaps and opportunities
  3. Improve OH governance
  4. Support OH funding or investment
  5. Use the OH Joint Plan of Action as a blueprint for action
  6. Implement the OH approach in all relevant policies
  7. Facilitate OH research, knowledge and capacity

During this time, WHO One Health Initiative conjointly with WHO Healthier Population Division Office developed and finalized a self-assessment questionnaire for countries to evaluate their One Health implementation. One of the biggest barriers across the countries is the lack of centralized One Health general funding, with budgets for One Health relevant activities still mostly distributed through specific ministries. Limited financing between disease events restricts continuing action and development, with each new response often having to start from scratch.

The World Bank estimates that between $10.3 and 11.5 billion a year is needed to implement One Health globally. This will require all forms of financing, from multilateral development banks, international financial institutions, domestic resources and the private sector. Quadripartite is investigating financing mechanisms and institutions and advocating for increased funding at the country level. Both the OH Joint Plan of Action and the G20 Lombok Policy Brief emphasize support to low- and middle-income countries to strengthen One Health approaches to pandemic prevention, preparedness and response to prevent the socioeconomic fallout seen with COVID-19.

Integrating the environment into One Health

While the One Health approach is not new, environmental dimensions have lagged behind human and animal health dimensions. This is why adding the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) this year to the One Health collaboration of the Food and Agriculture Organization, WHO and the World Organisation of Animal Health has been so important.

This integration was reinforced at COP27, the annual United Nations climate change conference, this year held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. In a video message, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has taught all of us many painful lessons. One of the most important is that we can only truly make the world safer with a One Health approach that addresses the intimate links between the health of humans, animals and our environment – and especially by addressing the existential threat of climate change.”

He pointed out how climate change fuels the spread of antimicrobial resistance, infectious diseases like cholera, malaria and dengue, and contributes to humanitarian emergencies with severe consequences for the health of millions, like floods in Pakistan and hunger in the Horn of Africa.

The One Health Joint Plan of Action developed by the Quadripartite of the four organizations has a track on integrating the environment into One Health, and another on food safety, which is affected by environmental conditions. The Quadripartite is investigating the drivers of health risks that include climate change, land use change, and environmental degradation.

The 10 New Insights in Climate Science report released at COP27 highlights these connections and their downstream effects. Climate change is already responsible for close to 40 percent of heat-related deaths, wildfires are increasing in frequency, bringing short- and long-term physical and mental health impacts. Outbreaks of infectious diseases are expected to increase due to climate change.

At the COP15 meeting on biological diversity, a panel discussion led by WHO and the Pan American Health Office focused on the importance of interlinking biodiversity, climate and human health for stronger One Health systems. The Montreal Roadmap for Biodiversity, Climate and Health was drafted to address the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. Roughly 190 countries approved a sweeping agreement at that meeting to protect 30 percent of the planet’s land and oceans by 2030 and to take numerous measures against biodiversity loss. One Health approach will be critical in these efforts.

UNEP recently launched the Nature for Health fund, which focuses on investments in nature as a basis for reducing the risks of pandemics. Through an initial contribution of €50 million from Germany’s International Climate Initiative, it brings together leading UN agencies, intergovernmental organizations and civil society groups in the field of environment and health. The new Fund will help countries achieve more holistic policymaking by creating further evidence of the links between biodiversity, climate and health, and will support decision-makers and relevant actors to take measures to prevent future pandemics.