SCI Foundation is now Unlimit Health. Learn more about what the change means for our ongoing efforts to eliminate neglected tropical diseases
One Health is a collaborative approach to health, which recognises that humans and animals live in a shared environment and there is added value to be gained by working together on issues at the interface of different sectors.
One Health is a collaborative approach to health, which recognises that humans and animals live in a shared environment and there is added value to be gained by working together on issues at the interface of different sectors. The World Health Organization defines One Health as “an approach to designing and implementing programmes, policies, legislation and research in which multiple sectors communicate and work together to achieve better public health outcomes”.
Unlimit Health works to tackle parasitic infections, including schistosomiasis, a disease caused by parasitic flatworms called schistosomes. The schistosome parasite has a complicated life cycle that requires a snail intermediate host to enable it to develop into the life stage that infects people.
An effective and widespread control method is mass drug administration (MDA) to populations at risk of infection. However, our long-term goal is to support country governments to reduce the number of people becoming infected in the first place and to break the transmission of schistosomiasis.
To do this, we need to support the implementation of a truly sustainable strategy for the control and elimination of this disease, and there are further challenges to overcome, since hybrid species capable of infecting people have been found emerging from cattle. As the parasites themselves evolve into new forms, treatment strategies will need to adapt to include both the human and livestock population and this may be further complicated by global travel, as demonstrated by the recent outbreak in Corsica.
We aim to take a One Health approach to improving health by working across different partners operating in animal, human, and environmental health. Our approach goes beyond treatment of parasitic worms in people and aims to change population behaviour to reduce transmission between humans and between human and animal populations, address environmental transmission factors, and increase access to all basic services including healthcare, water, sanitation and education. We also explore ways in which control strategies for multiple pathogens can be brought together, for instance the relevance of treatments against schistosomiasis for diseases caused by pork tapeworms.
In 2021 the UK hosted the G7 meeting at Cardis Bay. In preparation for the health stream of the G7, Unlimit Health’s Dr Gabrielle Laing worked with the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (RSTMH) and Uniting to Combat NTDs (UTC) to develop recommendations on One Health for the G7 and other world leaders.
We surveyed and interviewed 137 professionals from around the world, working in human, animal and environmental health. They included those currently working in industry, academia, NGOs, healthcare, government and intergovernmental organisations
The recommendations in this report address the importance of adopting a One Health approach for zoonotic disease and Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response, Antimicrobial Resistance, food security and the global health workforce.
The final UK G7 report recognised: ‘the complex nature of public health threats has highlighted the need for a multi-sectoral approach that goes beyond traditional health agendas, including through a One Health approach to global health (one that recognises the interconnections between human health, animal health and the health of our environment) to address antimicrobial resistance, zoonotic diseases (those that spread from animals to humans), emerging infectious diseases, and the impacts of climate change’