‘One Health approach all about coordinating, communicating, collaborating’


As the government is working towards creating One Health platform for knowledge sharing on human and animal health, Atul Chaturvedi, the secretary of the department of animal husbandry, spoke to Anonna Dutt about it. Edited excerpts:

What is the digital platform for the livestock sector about and how will it help in predicting or maintaining surveillance on outbreaks of zoonotic diseases?

The department has been working with the support of the office of the principal scientific adviser to the government of India to develop an end-to-end digital platform that aims to create unique identification numbers for animals and their registration. This will help in collecting real-time data on various aspects of livestock including disease and active surveillance. The digital platform tries to address information gaps at multiple levels in livestock production. The platform also enables monitoring disease prevalence in specific geographies, the kind of remedy, and services provided for identifying and mitigating the diseases. Additionally, the digital data captured ensures better data recording, accountability and allows for better data analysis. This data will aid policy in the generation of informed policy decisions.

How will surveillance data on diseases that may jump to humans be shared between departments?

In the animal sector, we have a nationwide surveillance programme being steered by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, National Institute of Veterinary Epidemiology and Disease Informatics (NIVEDI), for animal infectious diseases, which also include zoonotic diseases like anthrax and brucellosis. This surveillance data are available on NIVEDI’s website.

With respect to data sharing, it is still scanty. Data sharing systems with built-in mechanisms for credit sharing need to be streamlined for easy access to data by various sectors.

The One Health Framework follows a multi-stakeholder approach bringing together stakeholders and institutions from both the public as well as the private sector to address the communication gap. It engages with human health and animal health professionals along with other related stakeholders working across animal, human, and environmental health sectors to improve the health of people and animals, including pets, farm animals, and wildlife. The implementation of the new One Health India programme has incorporated adequate elements to ensure complementarity and resolve the communication gaps between human health (medical practitioners) and animal health (veterinarians) professionals, especially in the area of zoonoses, antimicrobial resistance (AMR), and food safety. One Health approach is all about coordinating, communicating, and collaborating among various stakeholders.

Additionally, the Covid-19 pandemic saw veterinary and medical professionals working together as many laboratories working on animal disease diagnosis actively engaged themselves in the testing of human samples. Veterinarians posted in the field played a very important role in the management of the Covid working together with medical professionals.

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How will antibiotic resistance be addressed under the programme?

As part of the One Health Initiative, we are looking at building good production practices – referred to as Good Animal Husbandry Practices – at farm and field level to reduce disease burden and hence anti-microbial resistance. To reduce the incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases, we will be organising vaccination drives in critical areas.

Vaccination plays an important role in reducing disease and, hence reducing antimicrobial resistance. Under the National Animal Disease Control Programme, animals are vaccinated for FMD and Brucellosis besides other nationwide programmes on PPR and CSF in small ruminants and pigs respectively. As anti-microbial resistance is relevant in several sectors and industries, we are building and initiating awareness programmes to reach the different stakeholders.

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