On One Health Day 2022 Australia’s Three Chiefs are highlighting the importance of working together to address environmental changes contributing to disease threats affecting human, animal, plant and environmental health.
Threats to wildlife populations, production animals, and the global human population arising from animal diseases has never been more concerning.
Australia’s wildlife, including many national iconic species are under threat from climate change, habitat loss, bushfires, invasive species and disease pressures.
Both endemic and emerging wildlife diseases have the potential to threaten and endanger species, which can then create detrimental ripple effects through entire ecosystems, and with the potential to impact environmental and human health.
Australia is at the forefront of working together via a One Health approach with the national One Health ‘Wildlife Surveillance Initiative’ launched in April 2022.
This initiative is boosting Australia’s wildlife disease surveillance, investigation and diagnostic activities, to strengthen our ability to prevent, detect and respond to emerging diseases, including those with pandemic potential.
Australia’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Mark Schipp said we were already seeing the impact of anthropogenic climate change contributing to a greater incidence of diseases affecting animal health – such as Japanese encephalitis and avian influenza.
“It is imperative that we all work together to combat these challenges. It is equally important that we monitor for new and emerging diseases that have the potential to transfer between species - including to people,” Dr Schipp said.
“The Human Spillover and Emerging Disease Scanning (HASEDS) group was established earlier this year in conjunction with Wildlife Health Australia to apply a One Health approach to the identification of animal diseases and the drivers behind their emergence.”
Australia’s Chief Plant Protection Officer, Dr Gabrielle Vivian-Smith said plants make up 80% of the food we eat and produce 98% of the oxygen we breathe, so robust plant health is critical to healthy people and a healthy environment.
“These relationships are interdependent but under increasing strain,” Dr Vivian-Smith said.
“Plant pests and diseases can spread through human activities and establish in new areas under a changing climate, so it’s vital that we work together because ultimately these all influence each other.”
Australia’s Chief Environmental Biosecurity Officer, Dr Robyn Cleland said our environment is the glue that holds everything together.
“Healthy ecosystems and wildlife are essential to human and agricultural health and our quality of life,” Dr Cleland said.
“Changing land use, climate change and invasive species are significantly impacting our ecosystems.
“We must work together to look after our environment, so it can continue looking after us”
For more information on One Health www.woah.org/en/what-we-do/global-initiatives/one-health/