Experts are warning that new pathogens jumping between animals and humans will become more frequent as habitats change in a warming world. The animal-human diseases, technically known as zoonotic diseases, cost many countries millions of dollars every year spent in response and control efforts.
Increased movement of people, exchange of goods and foods within and across borders coupled with environmental degradation have seen diseases previously confined to a limited population spreading widely as people and animals seek favourable surroundings. Dr Mathew Mutiiria, a medical epidemiologist in Kenya’s Ministry of Health, says such diseases can be best controlled through the ‘One Health’ approach — a concept that recognizes the fact that human and animal health is interdependent and bound to the health of the ecosystems in which they exist.
Dr Mutiiria says the ‘One Health’ approach to disease control involves the participation of experts in human, animal, environmental health, and other relevant disciplines and sectors in monitoring and controlling public health threats and to learn about how diseases spread among people, animals, plants, and the environment.
The WHO also encourages collaboration across sectors and disciplines to protect health, address health challenges such as the emergence of infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance.