An argument for pandemic risk management using a multidisciplinary One Health approach to governance: an Australian case study
Globalization and Health
The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 and the subsequent COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in significant global impact. However, COVID-19 is just one of several high-impact infectious diseases that emerged from wildlife and are linked to the human relationship with nature. The rate of emergence of new zoonoses (diseases of animal origin) is increasing, driven by human-induced environmental changes that threaten biodiversity on a global scale. This increase is directly linked to environmental drivers including biodiversity loss, climate change and unsustainable resource extraction. Australia is a biodiversity hotspot and is subject to sustained and significant environmental change, increasing the risk of it being a location for pandemic origin. Moreover, the global integration of markets means that consumption trends in Australia contributes to the risk of disease spill-over in our regional neighbours in Asia-Pacific, and beyond. Despite the clear causal link between anthropogenic pressures on the environment and increasing pandemic risks, Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, like most of the world, has centred largely on public health strategies, with a clear focus on reactive management. Yet, the span of expertise and evidence relevant to the governance of pandemic risk management is much wider than public health and epidemiology. It involves animal/wildlife health, biosecurity, conservation sciences, social sciences, behavioural psychology, law, policy and economic analyses to name just a few. The authors are a team of multidisciplinary practitioners and researchers who have worked together to analyse, synthesise, and harmonise the links between pandemic risk management approaches and issues in different disciplines to provide a holistic overview of current practice, and conclude the need for reform in Australia. We discuss the adoption of a comprehensive and interdisciplinary ‘One Health’ approach to pandemic risk management in Australia. A key goal of the One Health approach is to be proactive in countering threats of emerging infectious diseases and zoonoses through a recognition of the interdependence between human, animal, and environmental health. Developing ways to implement a One Health approach to pandemic prevention would not only reduce the risk of future pandemics emerging in or entering Australia, but also provide a model for prevention strategies around the world.
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National Health and Medical Research Council