The first dialogue on the joint FAO-OIE-UNEP-WHO regional partner platform helps operationalize the One Health approach.

22 November 2021, Budapest, Hungary – With representatives of concerned parties in Europe and Central Asia, the first dialogue meeting of the One Health partner platform took place today to address health threats to animals, humans, plants, and the environment in a more effective and coordinated manner.

Participants gathered to discuss benefits and challenges associated with applying the One Health approach and the role of partners and their expected contribution to the partner platform.

The dialogue was initiated by FAO, OIE, UNEP, and WHO during the World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (18–24 November).

Adhering to the theme of the week for 2021, “Spread awareness, stop resistance,” the platform provides an opportunity for UN agencies, international organizations, financial institutions, civil society, academia, and the private sector to initiate a thematic dialogue on One Health issues in the countries of Europe and Central Asia. The endeavour aims to take stock of the region’s emerging (and re-emerging) health threats at the human-animal-environment interface, provide evidence, share lessons learned, facilitate networking around successes, better identify challenges, and foster innovation in working with the One Health approach.

“The challenges are multiple in this region and many of them, notably the COVID-19 pandemic, relate to One Health – the interconnected nature of human-animal-environmental health – highlighting the need for better coordination across sectors to protect health and prevent disruption to food systems,” said Vladimir Rakhmanin, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Europe and Central Asia.

“One Health must be at the centre of global and regional solutions for AMR, since its drivers lie in all health sectors: human health, animal health, plant health, environmental health, and food security,” pointed out Budimir Plavsic, OIE Regional Representative for Europe. “A recent analysis of OIE global data on the usage of antimicrobial agents for animals confirmed a downward trend in many countries. However, we still need to invest in innovation and science to provide alternative solutions, such as biosecurity and vaccines, to strengthen accountability and national, regional, and global governance.”

“The interdependence of animal, human, and environmental health is clear; still COVID-19 was a wake-up-call,” underlined Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe. “The need for operationalizing the One Health concept has never been greater. Yet, WHO cannot do that alone, neither is it something WHO, FAO, OIE, and UNEP can do single-handedly. To address health threats originating in the animal, human, and environment interface, input and support from a wide range of stakeholders and resource partners is required.”

Through the platform, partners can also share tools that could facilitate the practical implementation of the One Health approach in priority areas at national level to maximize impact.

The COVID-19 pandemic – call for bold action

 The current pandemic, spread of bacteria that are resistant to antimicrobial treatment, and transboundary animal diseases are only a few striking symptoms of a malfunctioning system. To promote a healthy and sustainable planet, urgent and bold actions are needed across sectors.

Through strengthened collaboration in Europe and Central Asia, FAO, OIE, UNEP, and WHO have jointly taken further steps for better governance in this area.

Operationalizing the One Health approach is essential to better prevent, detect, and control diseases that spread between animals and humans, tackle antimicrobial resistance, reduce food safety risks, prevent environment-related human and animal health threats, as well as to combat other challenges.

Implementing this approach is critical for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The partner platform is a practical element of the regional One Health Coordination Mechanism that was established earlier this year as a commitment to foster the implementation of the One Health approach at both the executive and technical levels.