One Health Perspective: Food as a Connection among Environmental Wellbeing, Animal Welfare, and Human Health

One Health is the ideology that human, animal, and environmental health are all interconnected. It entails interdisciplinary teams working together to address challenges in order to promote health and society, and also protect natural resources. To improve the health of people and animals including pets, cattle, and other productive animals as well as captive and free-ranging wildlife, and the environment, a One Health approach to public health is used1. In this insight , a concise review of food, which is the central element of One Health, is made in connection with animal, human and environmental wellbeing.

One Health is the ideology that human, animal, and environmental health are all interconnected. It entails interdisciplinary teams working together to address challenges in order to promote health and society, and also protect natural resources. To improve the health of people and animals including pets, cattle, and other productive animals as well as captive and free-ranging wildlife, and the environment, a One Health approach to public health is used1. In this insight , a concise review of food, which is the central element of One Health, is made in connection with animal, human and environmental wellbeing.

Animal welfare is regarded as a key component of the food quality concept as a whole and is interconnected with the environment. Having good animal welfare results in high output that benefits owners through better yields and fewer losses. This enhances the livelihood and income of owners by increasing the amount of food sources available to them and their community. This undoubtedly boosts people’s satisfaction. It also helps the environment by reducing animal losses which represent waste inputs and resources.2 However, genetic alterations and threats to animal welfare such as stress-induced immuno-suppression and the propagation of foodborne pathogens have the potential to jeopardize the nutritional value and safety of food. When we examine what we eat and how it is produced, we discover ample evidence of harm to both our environment and our food (due to pollution and soil depletion resulting from the toxicity of growing foods industrially). Vitamin C has decreased by 20%, iron by 15%, riboflavin by 38%, and calcium by 16%, according to Brian Halwell3, a researcher at Worldwatch. So, our food now provides us with significant evidence on how it is interconnected with environment and humans health.

For human health, food is necessary and this indicates that food and health are interrelated. Nowadays, due to less nourishment per calorie in food content, we need to eat more to get the same amount of vitamins and minerals we did in the past. Due to lack of environmental conservation and use of inorganic fertilizers, soil loses its nutrients. This changes the bio-chemistry of soil contents and leads to less nourishment in food content that eventually results in severe human health problems and loss of biodiversity. Further, the impact of food on people’s wellbeing should be taken into account when considering the biological impacts of our food intake and the social and cultural significance of what we eat. This shows that food is markedly connected to human health, animal welfare and environmental wellbeing. It makes sense to broaden the scope of public health beyond a single species in order to detect and manage emerging public health hazards. This is because animals and humans share health risks from changing environments. A retooling of global public health capacities and resources across several species is necessary to mitigate the effects of climate change, new diseases, toxicant releases, and changes in the environment.

To build a healthy community and realize One Health approach via food as a connecter, there is a need for greater knowledge among academicians, producers, consumers, and government organizations of One Health efforts for sustainable food systems; preservation of natural resources; and improvement of health. So far individual efforts and activities have been carried out in Ethiopia such as preparing FBDG (food-based dietary guidelines), implementing conservation of natural resources, providing veterinary services, increasing the use of natural organic (compost) fertilizer, and similar attempts. However, additional essential endeavours for such an initiative are needed. Some of such efforts include collaborative, multisectoral and transdisciplinary approach and interprofessional collaboration between human, environmental, and animal health experts to participate in direct investment of services that ensure the animals, environment and humans are receiving high-quality and reasonable treatments that support quality production, unswerving safety and proper use of food. Furthermore, it would be necessary to incorporate environmental conservation mechanisms which will result in increasing advantages for people’s health and food production. There should also be the need to invest in the formulation and implementation of relevant policy and community-driven approaches to food market, animal welfare, human health and environmental protection so as to realize the sustainability of food systems.


Reference

  1. Sara N. Garcia, Bennie I. Osburn, Michele T. Jay-Russell. One Health for Food Safety, Food Security, and Sustainable food production review article Front. Sustain. Food Syst., 28 January 2020 Sec. Agro-Food Safety https://doi.org/10.3389/fsufs.2020.00001
  2. Broom, DM. Animal welfare: An aspect of care, sustainability, and food quality required by the public. J Vet Med Educ. 2010. Spring;37(1):83-8. doi: 10.3138/jvme.37.1.83. PMID: 20378884
  3. State of the World. 2004. Watching What We Eat. Brian Halweil and Danielle Nierenberg.https://slideplayer.com/slide/2734465/accessed02.11.2023
    Rabinowitz P, Conti L. Links among human health, animal health, and ecosystem health. Annu Rev Public Health. 2013;34:189-204. doi: 10.1146/annurev-publhealth-031912-114426. Epub 2013 Jan 16. PMID: 23330700


About the author

Mulugeta Aklilu

Social Protection and Development Team

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