by Dr. Hope Ferdowsian
More than 60 years ago, Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, using the impacts of DDT to awaken the world to the fact that the lives of people, animals, and the planet are interdependent.
Her challenge of the assumption that humans and the natural world are separate inspired an environmental revolution.
In this essay, published in Harvard Public Health Magazine, PZI’s president, Dr. Hope Ferdowsian, uses the example of how Carson inspired a revolution around ecological health to highlight the need for a new revolution focused on centering prevention, justice, and the connections between humans, other animals, and our shared environment.
Dr. Ferdowsian emphasizes that “our status quo relationship” with animals and the environment—such as through environmental degradation, and animal farming and trafficking—increases our risk of pandemics and other negative health impacts.
As she notes:
Our approach to public health has historically been too anthropocentric and failed to pay attention to ethics and inter-species justice. For example, in pandemic prevention and response, we’ve paid much more attention to catching and monitoring emerging diseases in captive and wild animals that pose threats to humans, than to addressing the root causes of pandemics: habitat destruction, animal farming, and wild animal trade—all issues that would require us to re-think the way we treat animals.
A One Health approach based on an ecological view of health that advances the rights, health, and wellbeing of people, animals, and the planet is key, says Ferdowsian. If such an approach were integrated at all levels of policy and practice, we could address the root causes of public health threats and create a world in which everyone can thrive.
Find out more about PZI’s Just One Health approach.