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Journal of the Union of Scientists - Varna. Medicine and Ecology Series

One Health—the origin of the idea, development, and role in the European social policies

Desislava Vankova


INTRODUCTION: One Health as a paradigm is defined in many ways, but at the core is its social role to support cooperation between all societal sectors to protect the environment and the health of people, animals, and plants.

THE AIM is two-fold: to trace the historical development of the planetary idea of One Health and to examine its role in European medico-social policies, with an emphasis on dealing with antimicrobial resistance (AMR) as one of the main public health challenges of the XXI century.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A desk review based on a search in PubMed on keywords: “One Health”, “Europe”, and “social policies”, was conducted, as well as targeted qualitative content analysis of One Health definitions and models up to date. Global and European policy documents and strategies related to One Health have been studied, with an additional focus on AMR, including the most recent one since October 2022 issued by the UN Quadripartite coalition for One Health.

HISTORY, DATA AND DISCUSSION: One Health is a global movement, which originated at the end of the XIX century in Europe. It recognizes the fundamental connection between the environment and the health of humans, animals, and plants. Today, the Quadripartite coalition of four United Nations organizations outlines the areas where the One Health approach is particularly important: 1) food and water safety; 2) zoonosis control; 3) protection of the environment; and 4) in the actions to combat AMR detailed in the Global Plan as Action Track 5: Curbing the Silent Pandemic of AMR.

Nowadays, One Health has a key role in European public health to curb AMR. In Europe, AMR accounts for approximately 33,000 deaths per year. Annually, the social costs of AMR for the European Union (EU) are estimated to be 1.5 billion Еuros. Increasingly, AMR is a responsibility not only to microbiologists and medical professionals but to society as a whole. Specifically, after the COVID-19 pandemic, AMR remains one of the biggest public health threats in the EU. The joint efforts have led to the creation of the EU AMR One-Health Network.

CONCLUSION: Antimicrobial resistance will remain the focus of European social policies and practices for the coming decades. The One Health movement is at the heart of the European plan to tackle AMR, which is a serious problem in a national context as well.


One Health, antimicrobial resistance (AMR), Europe, health policies, public health, history of medicine

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