One Health

Federal Minister for Development Gerd Mül­ler
In order to protect ourselves from future infectious diseases, we need a triad made up of human health, animal health and a healthy environment. With this One Health approach, we can significantly reduce the risk of future pandemics – because COVID-19 will not be the last pandemic.
Gerd Müller German Development Minister

COVID-19 – a wake-up call 

The pandemic that we are currently exper­iencing, but also the emergence of other zoo­noses, along with the growing incidence of anti­microbial resistance make clear how impor­tant it is that we approach the topic of health with a broader under­standing than has been the case up to now.

Because of that – and in order to avert the risk of health crises like the present pandemic in the future – the Federal Ministry for Eco­nomic Coop­eration and Develop­ment (BMZ) is promoting the One Health approach.

The One Health approach

The One Health approach is based on the understanding that there are close links between the health of humans, animals and the environment. The One Health approach serves the goal of prevention and fosters interdisciplinary cooperation, in particular between human medicine, veterinary medicine and environmental science. The central focus of One Health is on the interfaces between humans, domestic animals, livestock and wild animals, and the ecosystems in which they live.

Graphic representation of the One Health approach: One Health is at the centre and there are interdependencies between human health, animal health and a healthy natural environment.

Fighting infectious diseases with the One Health approach

Infectious diseases pose a threat for people and animals. They are a particular threat for people living in low-income countries.

One example is the group of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Most of these infectious diseases can lead to death or chronic health issues and disabilities if left untreated. NTDs are not as well known as the "big four", AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and hepatitis, although they affect roughly one billion people – mainly people who are poor and without resources.

Deficits in health care provision and hygiene practices – for example in regard to food, drinking water and slaughter waste – particularly encourage the spread of NTDs. In order to effectively prevent and fight NTDs, it is necessary to follow a One Health approach that takes account of the interfaces between humans and the organisms that transmit the diseases (so-called vectors such as mosquitoes or ticks), and ecosystems (for example swamps and lakes), food products, drinking water and climate.

Areas of action

In order to implement the One Health approach, the BMZ is actively engaged in four fields of action, spending up to 150 million euros a year as of 2021: