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Organising for One Health in a developing country


Globally, zoonotic diseases pose an enormous and growing public health challenge, and developing countries like India are at the epicentre of it. Although there is general recognition of this reality, governments around the world have struggled to organise appropriately to respond to it. The widely held view is that organising for One Health requires effective cross-sectoral collaboration, but the prerequisites to enable such collaboration appear almost unattainable. Perhaps an entirely different approach is needed, which is over and above effective collaborations between competing government ministries. The approach would have to recognise that while any organisational response will need to be able to address identified zoonotic diseases and respond effectively to them in times of crises, it would also be required to have the ability to shape the response to megatrends such as climate change, deforestation, and the underlying development models of the country. The paper analyses the success and failures associated with the way in which India, Bangladesh, Kenya, and Rwanda have organised for One Health. It also studies the underlying pathways through which zoonotic spillovers take place, and epidemics gather momentum. Based on these critical analyses, the paper concludes that attempts to build single overarching units to address these challenges have only been partially effective. Given the scale and complexity of the challenge, it recommends that, even at the risk of duplication and the very real possibility that unaddressed gaps will remain, an approach, which builds multiple sharply focused units, would have a greater chance of success.

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