Justice is a Prerequisite for Human and Nonhuman Health
by the PZI Team
April 11, 2023
“A One Health view could help to address many of our problems, but only if it places rights and justice—within our species and with other species—at the center of global and local policy, research, and practice.” ~ Dr. Hope Ferdowsian
When SARS broke out in 2003, as PZI’s president, Dr. Hope Ferdowsian, notes in her commentary published in the journal CABI One Health, society had the opportunity to “challenge long-standing assumptions about our relationships with each other, other animals, and our shared environments.”
But, she says, society failed to take advantage of this opportunity to advance a socially and ecologically Just One Health approach—and not much has changed with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Ferdowsian adds that it has only become more clear how interconnected we are–and how our global threats affect people, animals, and the planet. But our systems, policies, practices, and solutions still largely reflect a colonialist, anthropocentric view.
A One Health Approach Falls Short
As Dr. Ferdowsian notes, more governments, institutions, and similar entities are adopting a One Health approach to address global health threats.
While a One Health approach recognizes the interconnections between people, animals, and the planet, the framework is still founded on the commodification and exploitation of vulnerable humans and nonhuman animals, including, she says, in “food production, research, international trade, and other areas of society.”
This emphasis not only neglects the inherent value, rights, and interests of individuals, she adds, but it also fuels inequity, violence, and the triple planetary crisis of climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss.
A Just One Health Approach Centers Rights and Justice
A Just One Health approach–which is the framework for all that PZI does–recognizes that rights are inseparable from health, and that humans and other animals can only be healthy if they’re free to meet their self-determined physical, mental, and emotional needs in healthy environments that are free of exploitation and abuse.
The commentary also includes examples of the interconnected solutions that she has witnessed in communities around the world, such as an alliance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that is working to reduce violence and conflict, protect both people and animals, and empower girls and women.
As Dr. Ferdowsian reminds us, everyone has the power to manifest change in ways that help or harm.