Intergovernmental organizations launch one-health joint plan of action

The One Health Joint Plan of Action was launched this fall by the Quadripartite—the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the United Nations’ Environment Programme, the World Health Organization, and the World Organisation for Animal Health, founded as the OIE—to improve the health of humans, animals, plants, and the environment while contributing to sustainable development.

The plan aims to create a framework that integrates systems and capacity so that the four intergovernmental organizations can collectively better prevent, predict, detect, and respond to health threats, according to an Oct. 17 press release.

Black chicken in a cage
The One Health Joint Plan of Action builds upon existing programs and initiatives such as the Global Laboratory Leadership Programme and Tripartite Zoonoses Guide: Operational Tools and Approaches for Zoonotic Diseases.

“Using a One Health lens that brings all relevant sectors together is critical to tackle global health threats, like monkeypox, COVID-19, and Ebola,” WOAH Director General Dr. Monique Eloit said in the release. “It all starts with ensuring the health of animals. Animal health is our health, it is everyone’s health.”

The One Health Joint Plan of Action includes activities to strengthen collaboration, communication, capacity building, and coordination equally across all sectors responsible for addressing health concerns at the interface of humans, animals, plants, and the environment.

The five-year plan, covering 2022-26, focuses on the following six areas:

  • Enhancing one-health capacities to strengthen health systems.
  • Reducing the risks from emerging and reemerging zoonotic epidemics and pandemics.
  • Controlling and eliminating endemic zoonotic, neglected tropical, and vector-borne diseases.
  • Strengthening the assessment, management, and communication of food safety risks.
  • Curbing the silent pandemic of antimicrobial resistance.
  • Integrating the environment into one health.

The Quadripartite document—which the partners say is based on evidence, best practices, and existing guidance—covers actions to advance one health at the global, regional, and national levels. These actions include the development of a guidance document on implementation for countries, international partners, and other stakeholders such as professional associations, academia, and research institutions.

The plan sets out objectives such as providing a framework for collective and coordinated action to mainstream the one-health approach at all levels, providing policy and legislative advice and technical assistance to help set national targets and priorities, and promoting multinational, multisector, multidisciplinary collaboration, learning, and exchange of knowledge, solutions, and technologies.

For example, one of the action items listed is to create one-health training programs for environmental, medical, agricultural, and veterinary professionals.

The plan builds upon existing programs and initiatives such as the Global Laboratory Leadership Programme and Tripartite Zoonoses Guide: Operational Tools and Approaches for Zoonotic Diseases.

WOAH also has the Wildlife Health Framework (PDF), a guidance document designed to help member countries manage the risk of pathogen emergence in wildlife and transmission at the human-animal-ecosystem interface, while taking into account the protection of wildlife and biodiversity.

The Quadripartite's joint action plan also fosters the values of cooperation and shared responsibility, multisectoral action and partnership, gender equity, and inclusiveness.

“It’s clear that a One Health approach must be central to our shared work to strengthen the world’s defenses against epidemics and pandemics such as COVID-19,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The AVMA Journals have recently launched the “Currents in One Health” virtual collection, a grouping of JAVMA and AJVR manuscripts that feature topics that cross species with a translational approach from the lens of veterinary medicine. Visit the Journals website to learn more about one health.

A version of this article appears in the December 2022 print issue of JAVMA.