From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Zoonotic diseases
Mains level : Paper 2- 'One Health' approach to deal with infections diseases
The article highlights the need for a holistic approach to animal and human health as more than two-thirds of existing and emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic.
Need to document the link between environment animal and human health
- Studies indicate that more than two-thirds of existing and emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic, or can be transferred between animals and humans, and vice versa.
- Another category of diseases, anthropozoonotic infections, gets transferred from humans to animals.
- The transboundary impact of viral outbreaks in recent years such as the Nipah virus, Ebola, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) has reinforced the need for us to consistently document the linkages between the environment, animals, and human health.
India’s ‘One Health’ vision
- India’s ‘One Health’ vision derives its blueprint from the agreement between the tripartite-plus alliance.
- The alliance comprises the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) — a global initiative supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank under the overarching goal of contributing to ‘One World, One Health’.
- In keeping with the long-term objectives, India established a National Standing Committee on Zoonoses as far back as the 1980s.
- This year, funds were sanctioned for setting up a ‘Centre for One Health’ at Nagpur.
- Further, the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying (DAHD) has launched several schemes to mitigate the prevalence of animal diseases since 2015.
- Hence, under the National Animal Disease Control Programme, ₹13,343 crore have been sanctioned for Foot and Mouth disease and Brucellosis control.
- In addition, DAHD will soon establish a ‘One Health’ unit within the Ministry.
- Additionally, the government is working to revamp programmes that focus on capacity building for veterinarians such as Assistance to States for Control of Animal Diseases (ASCAD).
- There is increased focus on vaccination against livestock diseases and backyard poultry.
- DAHD has partnered with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in the National Action Plan for Eliminating Dog Mediated Rabies.
Need for coordination
- There are more than 1.7 million viruses circulating in wildlife, and many of them are likely to be zoonotic.
- Therefore, unless there is timely detection, India risks facing many more pandemics in times to come.
- There is need to address challenges pertaining to veterinary manpower shortages, the lack of information sharing between human and animal health institutions, and inadequate coordination on food safety at slaughter.
- These issues can be remedied by consolidating existing animal health and disease surveillance systems — e.g., the Information Network for Animal Productivity and Health, and the National Animal Disease Reporting System.
As we battle yet another wave of a deadly zoonotic disease (COVID-19), awareness generation, and increased investments toward meeting ‘One Health’ targets is the need of the hour.