Health is not only one of the prerequisites for a self-determined life, it is also essential to social development and sustainable economic development. The COVID-19 pandemic and the associated measures have had a severe impact on human health, the economy and society. Many developing countries and emerging economies are particularly affected. The pathogen causing this pandemic, SARS-CoV-2, has drawn attention to the importance of zoonotic diseases, in other words diseases that can be transferred from animals to humans. Many infectious diseases that are widespread among humans have their origin in the animal realm. Experts estimate that there are still around 1.7 million unknown viruses in wild mammals and birds. Of these, approximately 700,000 have the potential to cross over to humans.
A growing global population, climate change, increasing mobility, human penetration into previously untouched habitats, industrial agriculture and intensified livestock farming are all factors that increase the risk of pathogens spreading rapidly worldwide. In addition, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is on the increase. In other words, if pathogens become immune to common medicines, infections that were previously harmless and easy to treat can become life-threatening. In order to reduce these massive health risks, we need new approaches, also in the field of development cooperation.
The term ‘One Health’ stands for an end-to-end, interdisciplinary approach. It strives to improve global health and reduce risks. To this end, One Health considers interdependencies and interactions between human, animal and environmental health. One example of this is climate change, which allows disease-transmitting insects to spread to further areas.
One Health is committed to preventive measures in all three areas. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) strives to mainstream this approach in international (development) cooperation across different sectors.
Selected countries and regional organisations are in a better position to prevent and combat epidemics and pandemics.