History tells us that most of the viruses that cause epidemic or pandemic outbreaks among humans originate in animals, so pandemic preparedness must address both human and animal health – together.
Whether we see animals as a source of food, income, companionship, or they’re central to our religious beliefs, the future of the human race is inextricably linked to our relationships with the wider animal kingdom.
Through the UK aid-sponsored Fleming Fund, Mott MacDonald has led a ‘One Health’ approach to support the monitoring of drug resistance in bacteria in humans, animals and the environment. One Health is an approach to designing and implementing programmes, policies, legislation and research in which multiple sectors communicate and work together to achieve better public health outcomes. This will help governments in Africa and Asia to assess trends and to understand how over-use of antibiotics in one group can impact antibiotic resistance in the other.
Working with health and veterinary specialists we are deploying the approach to deliver better childhood development outcomes in Tanzania. The ‘Pre-school, poultry and parenting’ initiative supports families with nutrition advice including sustainable poultry rearing. Selecting local, more disease-resistant breeds and promoting poultry vaccination means a more plentiful food source to benefit children’s development while reducing risks of disease spread.
Using big data analytics we can design, develop and implement One Health strategies to better detect and map viral and bacterial spread in animals and humans, so we can identify those areas where there is a risk of transmission between the two.
A One Health approach provides greater insights into the origins and spread of diseases, which will enable us to better reduce the risk of future outbreaks in the years to come.