Delhi set to host ‘One Health Summit’ on 4th & 5th May

The event is a multi-stakeholder approach that converges thought-leaders across academic institutions, international organizations, policy-makers, regulators and the industry

Biovoice News Global healthcare

New Delhi: Interconnectedness of human health, animal health, food and environment can no longer be ignored and the idea of the “One Health Concept” is, in essence, to appreciate the wealth of opportunity that lies in the interface area of this triad, which could be capitalized on, to protect the health of our planet as a whole. This is especially critical in the context of developing countries such as India where several looming health issues call for an integrated approach with cross-stakeholder engagement.

In the above context, the Cornell Sathguru Foundation is organizing the ‘One Health Summit’ on 4th and 5th May at New Delhi. As the first multi-stakeholder summit, it will serve as a foundational platform for an India centric discussion and conceptualization of actionable solutions. The program is extended to draw participation from policymakers, regulators and various cross-sections of industry (animal health, pharma, food).

‘One Health’ is particularly relevant in the context of emerging markets where problems such as Antimicrobial Resistance are looming and cannot be conquered without an integrative approach. Other themes that will be discussed include zoonotic diseases, vaccination, surveillance, food safety et al.

The summit will focus on the following key themes that are identified as critical in the Indian context:

Anti-Microbial Resistance

AMR is one of the cross-cutting challenges across the human and animal health continuum, with concerns looming at multiple points of the food chain. Pervasive use of antibiotics in humans as well as animals has rendered several strains of microbes (bacteria, viruses) to develop resistance to anti-microbial therapies (antibiotics, antivirals). Diseases caused by such resistant strains evade treatment, thereby posing a looming healthcare burden. Persistent use of antibiotics in farm animals such as fishes, poultry, cattle etc, has also effected a trickledown effect on the food chain, making them either carriers of resistant pathogens or antibiotic residues, either way affecting human health when consumed. Though there is fair of level cognizance of this humungous issue in the animal health industry propelling companies to explore alternatives to antibiotics, farm practices are highly influenced by regulatory framework and trade implications. It is time to acknowledge the disruptive weight of this concern and trigger change with a comprehensive perspective.

Zoonosis, Vaccines & Surveillance

60% of all disease causing pathogens are of animal origin and 75% of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic in nature. Many zoonotic diseases contribute significantly to global disease burden, including rabies, brucellosis, and avian influenza to name a few. While science has advanced to a level that prophylactic as well as therapeutic options exist for most of these diseases, yet, controlling these zoonotic pathogens at its animal source remain a big broken thread in the continuum. Rabies is a classic example, where the human rabies vaccine market is at least as large, if not larger, than the dog vaccines market, thus making it evident that human therapy is given more importance than animal prophylaxis. In the case of farm animals, surveillance and reporting of disease outbreak is in itself remains a missing link, triggered by fear of farmers’ business continuity, thus needing closer attention. Finally, the problem of reverse zoonosis of transfer of disease from human to animal is also a significant concern with TB being a case in point in the Indian context where bovine TB is now a severe and less understood problem and this will finally impact potential to eradicate human TB.

Food Safety

Food safety is another integral issue that is at the heart of the One Health Concept, as the food chain inevitably interlinks the worlds of humans, animals and environment. CDC estimates 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases each year in the United States. With burgeoning incidences of food-borne illnesses, there is growing public awareness of food safety, food security and sustainability in food production practices. Residues of pesticides from foods of plant-origin and antibiotics residues from animal-sourced foods are some of the unaddressed issues that question the very foundation of our farming practices today. On the other end, non-communicable pathogens also find their way to affect human health through the food chain. Improvements in regulatory scrutiny and implementation of more stringent checkpoints on permissible limits are the way forward to tackle this lofty problem.

As per orgnaizers, it is time to set the ball rolling, to discuss these critical issues and implement the One Health Approach in the Indian context, with a multi-stakeholder approach that converges thought-leaders across academic institutions, international organizations, policy-makers, regulators and the industry.