We need to build action-oriented community of diverse players for One Health to be fully implemented

echo network, a social innovation network initiated by the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India was founded in December 2019 with the specific focus of increasing scientific awareness, engagement, and insight regarding India’s human and environmental ecosystems. With the Government of India making National One Health Mission as part of its G20 priorities, there will be a lot of focus on how this can be achieved. In the same regard, Shannon Olsson, Founder and global Director, echo network in an interaction with Kalyani Sharma share her insights on One Health mission

Can you throw some light on what ‘One Health’ means and why it is important for a country like India to focus on it as part of its G20 priorities?

One Health is an integrative approach to prevent, detect, and respond to human health burdens. This approach acknowledges that human, animal, and environmental health are inextricably linked, and surveillance and reporting of all three aspects and their interactions is required to improve our health security and sustainable development. In this respect, One Health is well-aligned with the “One Earth, One Family, One Future” theme of India’s G20 Presidency and offers a clear strategy to achieve the New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration for sustainable and green development through enhancing human and environmental well-being.

Achieving the goals of such a comprehensive mission can be challenging. What, in your opinion, are some of the major challenges and hurdles that India may face in the process of realising the objectives of the One Health mission?

In governments, businesses, academia, and NGOs across the country, the components of One Health are split into tiny facets of expertise and focus. The major challenge lies in integrating the precise details of human, animal, and environmental health into a single system. Most One Health efforts across India still focus on specific aspects of health, such as livestock or zoonotic diseases, where communication channels are already established. True One Health Integration requires us to overcome organisational distrust and information-sharing concerns and simultaneously respect our population’s privacy and equity issues. We need to build an action-oriented community of diverse players for One Health to be fully implemented.

Could you elaborate on how echo network is planning to be a part of India’s National One Health Mission and contribute towards its success? Are there any specific initiatives or collaborations that echo network is currently involved in or planning to initiate to support the One Health mission in India?

The echo network was founded to engage different sectors and communities in the scientific process and enhance sustainable development. We specialise in building trust, understanding values, and developing a sense of responsibility in individuals to establish action-based communities. Rather than focus on the data alone, we use specialized methods to help organizations recognise each other’s values and understand how their knowledge integrates with others. With the Bengaluru Science and Technology Cluster (supported by the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser, GOI), we are working with several organisations to develop a One Health platform for our city. To this end, we ask: What One Health interventions are needed to make a single ward completely Dengue-free? Using this bottom-up approach, we plan to extract principles that can be adopted for other locations and health burdens. If you can’t realize One Health for 50,000 people, how will we realize One Health with 1.4 billion?

Looking ahead, what are your hopes and aspirations for the future of One Health in India, and what advice would you offer to policymakers, researchers, and organisations aiming to contribute to this mission’s success?

As a foreigner who has worked in India for almost ten years, I firmly believe that this country has all the tools it needs to actualise a One Health strategy at scale. We have the aspiration, the technical ability, and the support required. We must develop the patience to listen to each other, the courage to embrace new ideas from different sectors and disciplines, and the humility to realise that One Health is not a single solution patented by one company or institute. One Health requires many solutions to work together through bright minds and hearts nationwide.



G20 SummitNational One Health MissionOn Healthpartnership
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