by Dr. Hope Ferdowsian
“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, society had the opportunity to “challenge long-standing assumptions about our relationships with each other, other animals, and our shared environments.” But, as Dr. Hope Ferdowsian notes in this invited commentary published in the journal CABI One Health, we 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.
While a One Health approach—which recognizes the interconnections between people, animals, and the planet—is being adopted by more local and global governments, institutions, and other entities to respond to public health challenges such as outbreaks, she asserts that One Health doesn’t go far enough.
Dr. Ferdowsian notes that current One Health approaches still “reinforce ongoing human, animal, and environmental commodification in food production, research, international trade, and other areas of society—fueling inequality, violence, and the triple planetary crisis of climate change, air and water pollution, and biodiversity loss.”
She says that only with a Just One Health approach—which centers primary prevention and the interdependent rights, health, and wellbeing of humans, other animals, and the rest of the natural world—can we sufficiently address “interconnected problems that pose an existential threat to human and nonhuman beings.”
Dr. Ferdowsian also shares examples of the interconnected solutions in communities around the world, such as an alliance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that is working to “reduce conflict and violence, protect human and animal lives, and fuel the empowerment of women and girls.”
She ends with a reminder that everyone has the power to manifest change in ways that help or harm and offers examples of how people in professions touched by One Health can make a difference.
Ferdowsian, Hope. “A Silent Call for a Socially and Ecologically Just One Health Approach.” CABI One Health (15 March 2023).