One Health is an integrated approach that aims to sustainably balance and improve the health of people, animals, and ecosystems through multidisciplinary and multi-sectoral collaborations.
The VSF International network has been inspired by One Health since its foundation, over 30 years ago. The common vision “Healthy animals, healthy people, healthy environment” guides our interventions in the Global South to support vulnerable populations in contexts characterized by a high degree of interdependence between humans, animals and the environment and poor access to services.
In these contexts, and especially among livestock-dependent communities, One Health offers a unique opportunity to address complex challenges that require systemic and multi-sectoral responses, such as zoonotic diseases, food safety, antimicrobial resistance, Food and Nutrition Security, access to water, sanitation and hygiene, economic wellbeing and the disruption or dysfunction of ecosystems.
Due to the multi-dimensional nature of these risks, the adoption of a One Health approach becomes particularly necessary in order to address different health interfaces simultaneously and achieve sustainable and lasting results.
One Health implementation at community level
VSF International promotes a One Health approach that is decentralised and concretely implemented as close as possible to populations and communities, ensuring their involvement from the moment problems are identified, and for the development of collective solutions adapted to each specific context.
Partnership is essential to the implementation of the One Health approach. Having a recognized expertise in animal health, we seek to establish partnerships with human health and environmental organizations in order to tackle complex problems through multiple angles.
We pay special attention to the inclusion of local communities and farmers’ organizations, who have a deep understanding of their local context, the challenges and the solutions that are possible and sustainable, in the local implementation of these approaches.
Local service providers, such as decentralized technical services, community-based workers (either in Animal Health or in Human Health), rangers, forest guards, small-scale businesses as village pharmacies, are essential stakeholders in the design, implementation and evaluation of locally-adapted solutions. Supporting them and facilitating their networking at local level is therefore crucial to ensuring that the One Health concept is taken on board and applied in practice in their areas.
One Health definition by the One Health High Level Experts Panel (OHHLEP)
One Health is an integrated, unifying approach that aims to sustainably balance and optimize the health of people, animals and ecosystems.
It recognizes the health of humans, domestic and wild animals, plants, and the wider environment (including ecosystems) are closely linked and inter-dependent.
The approach mobilizes multiple sectors, disciplines and communities at varying levels of society to work together to foster well-being and tackle threats to health and ecosystems, while addressing the collective need for clean water, energy and air, safe and nutritious food, taking action on climate change, and contributing to sustainable development.
One Health implementation in the Global South: a holistic approach to address the key challenges of livestock-dependent communities
Policy Brief and Technical Paper
VSF International, June 2020
VSF International, November 2023
Collaboration is one of the cornerstones of the VSF International network’s success. Partnerships help us extend our influence, reach, and knowledge. That is why we are thankful to be members of the following networks focusing on One Health: