Dr N Paranietharan explaining One Health, however, stressed on the implementation of the revised ‘one health strategy and action plan’ in Bangladesh.
He was talking to bdnews24.com on the sidelines of the ninth One Health conference on Sunday in Dhaka.
What is One Health and why is it necessary?
Health Minister Mohammed Nasim inaugurated the two-day conference with the presence of representatives from the ministries of livestock, fisheries, forest and environment.
Representatives of the UN agencies and the US embassy in Dhaka were also present at the inauguration of the conference that brought together government officials, experts, and scientists of the health, environment and forest, and livestock ministries.
This concept was introduced in 2007 in Bangladesh and is being seen as the key tool to respond to emerging diseases such as avian influenza, anthrax, and chikungunya.
The WHO Representative, Paranietharan, told bdnews24.com that in one health they talk about human health interacting with animal health as well as environmental health.
“All these three are important for Bangladesh because Bangladesh is not about just the 160 million people and exclusively their health but also how they relate to the animal health and with livestock, with fisheries, and also with the forestry and environment, and about the climate changes that result in all the other challenges,” he explained.
“Therefore One Health is important for Bangladesh,” he said.
Bangladesh has seen a number of different disease outbreaks in humans which originate from animals.
“This is the interface we are trying to work on,” Paranietharan said.
“If we manage the animal health well, and prevent these diseases in animals or in case we identify these diseases and prevent the diseases from animals and transmission from humans.
“Then we are able not only prevent these diseases, but also reduce sufferings and in addition we are also reducing the unnecessary economic loss that comes because of the animals falling sick as well as transfer of the diseases affecting human health,” he said, highlighting the importance of the concept.
He said Bangladesh had come a “reasonably long” way since the beginning of the concept in 2007.
Initially, he said, "there has lack of understanding and challenges of coordination."
But in the last three years of his office in Dhaka, he observed an “excellent coordination”.
He observed the maximum level of leadership from the government as well as interaction with the development partners.
“We also have very good revised one health strategy and action plan which not only addresses human health part but also addresses animal health part and interactions with the environmental health. This is an excellent start,” he said.
But new challenges such as antimicrobial resistant emerged.
“There is a specific action plan to address that both in animals and humans. So if we implement the strategy and the action plans very well, we would be able to improve the situation,” he said, adding that Bangladesh will have to do that to prevent the number of outbreaks and sufferings as well.
One Health and SDGs
The conference is themed on ‘achieving SDGs through One Health Approach’.
Coordinator of One Health Bangladesh Prof Dr Nitish C Debnath said the new post-015 development agenda provides a “unique opportunity” to advance ‘One Health’ concept by making “integrated approach to improving human health, animal health and environmental health”.
“Building partnership is central to the SDGs which clearly aligns with the core principle of One Health,” he said, presenting a keynote paper at the conference.
In SDGs, a set of 17 goals is backed by 169 targets, and all are interconnected and to be achieved by 2030 which will result in transformation.
Prof Debnath said the relationship between health and wellbeing and sustainable development is that “health can be a contributor, a beneficiary and vehicle to measure success in achieving sustainable development.”
Emerging infectious diseases and zoonosis, food safety and food security, antimicrobial resistance and its containment, one health governance, advocacy and communication and policy, ecosystem health and conservation are the five thematic areas of the conference, Chairperson of One Health Secretariat Prof Meerjady Sabrina Flora, Director of the IEDCR, said.
The health minister, in his speech, has stressed on inter-ministerial coordination for better prevention and management of diseases.