The Advent of a Holistic Approach to ‘One Health’

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  • The relationship between humans, animals, and the environment has become increasingly interdependent, particularly evident with the emergence of pandemics such as COVID-19.
  • This interdependence also extends to livestock and wild animals, with diseases such as lumpy skin disease affecting both animal productivity and trade.
  • Recognising these challenges, the Indian government has initiated the 'National One Health Mission' to address the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health. 

The National One Health Mission

  • It is a comprehensive initiative endorsed by Prime Minister's Science, Technology, and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC) in July 2022.
  • This mission involves 13 ministries and departments, including the Department of Science and Technology, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and others, to take a holistic approach to One Health and pandemic preparedness.
  • The establishment of a National Institute for One Health in Nagpur is a key milestone in the mission.
  • The institute will act as the coordinating body for national and international activities in the field of One Health.
  • The foundation stone of this institute was laid by the Prime Minister on December 11, 2022.

Goals and Strategies of The National One Health Mission

  • Integrated Disease Surveillance
    • The mission aims to establish a seamless and cohesive surveillance system that monitors health indicators across human, animal, and environmental sectors.
    • By integrating data from these areas, the mission can detect potential health threats early and respond more effectively.
  • Joint Outbreak Response
    • A coordinated approach to outbreak response is essential for managing and controlling diseases that can affect humans, animals, and the environment.
    • The mission seeks to establish protocols and frameworks that enable different sectors to work together during outbreaks, sharing resources and information to minimize the impact.
  • Coordinated Research and Development (R&D)
    • The mission promotes collaboration across various scientific research institutions and government departments to foster the development of innovative solutions for emerging health threats.
    • This includes the creation of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics that are essential for pandemic preparedness and response.
  • Information Sharing and Communication
    • Effective communication and information sharing are crucial for a coordinated One Health approach.
    • The mission aims to facilitate seamless data exchange between different sectors and stakeholders, ensuring that all parties are well-informed and can take timely action when necessary.
  • Preparedness for Future Pandemics
    • Building on the lessons learned from past pandemics, the mission strives to develop strategies and frameworks that will enable the country to be better prepared for future health crises.
    • This includes planning for potential pandemics and emerging diseases such as avian influenza or Nipah virus.
  • Resource Optimisation
    • By leveraging the resources and expertise of multiple sectors and stakeholders, the mission aims to optimise the use of available resources, including laboratory infrastructure, healthcare facilities, and scientific research capabilities.
    • This collaboration helps in addressing health threats more efficiently and cost-effectively.
  • Public Health Education and Awareness
    • The mission includes educating the public about the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health.
    • Raising awareness about One Health principles can promote healthier behaviours and better preparedness for health emergencies.

A Key Aspect of the National One Health Mission: Laboratory Network and Technological Integration

  • High-Risk Pathogen Laboratories
    • The mission aims to establish a national network of laboratories equipped to handle high-risk pathogens (Biosafety Level 3 and Biosafety Level 4).
    • These laboratories are designed to work with dangerous infectious agents, providing a secure environment for studying pathogens that could potentially cause pandemics.
  • Collaboration Among Departments
    • By bringing together laboratories managed by different departments, the mission aims to create a cohesive network that can coordinate and share resources across sectors.
    • This integration helps improve disease outbreak response, regardless of whether the threat originates in human, animal, or environmental populations.
  • Resource Optimisation
    • Combining laboratory resources under one network ensures efficient utilization of infrastructure and personnel.
    • This collaboration allows the network to quickly respond to outbreaks and other health emergencies, making the best use of available resources.
  • Interdisciplinary Research and Analysis
    • The mission encourages collaboration between experts from different fields such as medicine, veterinary science, environmental science, and public health.
    • This interdisciplinary approach enables more thorough research and analysis of health threats and their impact across various sectors.
  • Application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning
    • AI and machine learning are key technologies that the mission integrates to enhance epidemiological capabilities.
    • These technologies can analyse large datasets to identify patterns, trends, and potential health threats, enabling timely interventions and better preparedness.
  • Disease Modelling
    • Advanced modelling techniques are used to predict disease spread and potential outbreaks.
    • These models help in planning and implementing targeted measures to control the spread of infectious diseases.
  • Genomic Surveillance
    • The mission expands genomic surveillance efforts beyond COVID-19 to include other diseases.
    • By analysing genetic material from wastewater and other sentinels such as livestock and wildlife congregations, scientists can monitor disease prevalence and identify new threats.
  • Capacity Building
    • The mission focuses on building the capacity of professionals across sectors in epidemiology, data analytics, and laboratory management.
    • Training and development programs ensure that personnel have the skills needed to effectively use new technologies and methodologies.

The Global Perspective of The National One Health Mission

  • One Health is a global topic and was endorsed during India's presidency of the G-20.
  • The mission focuses on building surveillance capacity, analytic capability, and an international network of One Health institutes.
  • One Health extends beyond diseases to include issues like antimicrobial resistance, food safety, plant diseases, and climate change's impact on health.


  • One Health is not just limited to diseases rather it concerns wider aspects such as antimicrobial resistance, food safety, plant diseases and the impact of climate change on all of these.
  • Intersectoral topics such as One Health require close engagement of not just different governmental agencies but also non-governmental organisations, academia, the private sector and also citizens.
  • Such an approach focused on an actionable framework will further the goal of moving closer to the clarion call of ‘One Earth, One Health’ and ‘Health for All. 

Q) What is a biosafety lab?

A biosafety lab is a facility designed to safely study biological agents that can be hazardous to humans, animals, or the environment. These labs follow strict safety and security protocols to prevent accidental exposure or release of potentially dangerous microorganisms.

Q) What are the different biosafety levels?

Biosafety levels range from 1 to 4, each with increasing safety measures. Biosafety Level 1 (BSL-1) handles agents that pose minimal risk, such as non-pathogenic strains of E. Biosafety Level 2 (BSL-2) works with moderate-risk agents, like those causing common illnesses Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) deals with agents that can cause severe or potentially lethal diseases. Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4) manages highly dangerous and potentially life-threatening agents, such as Ebola, with maximum containment measures in place.

Source:The Hindu