One Health in China: Link between human, animal health and environment gains traction

By CM Tay

- Last updated on GMT

One Health in China: Link between human, animal health and environment gains traction in China © Getty Images
One Health in China: Link between human, animal health and environment gains traction in China © Getty Images

Related tags Animal health Epidemiology

A holistic concept that recognises the interconnectedness of human health, animal health and the environment, is gradually but definitively attracting public awareness in China.

The One Health concept is becoming increasingly important in global health. The expansion of human activities has led to major environmental changes and growing threats to animals, plants and humans. Zoonotic diseases, where pathogens move from animals to infect humans, have become a significant concern.

Over 60% of known infectious diseases in humans have originated from animals and recent outbreaks, such as SARS in 2003, Ebola in 2014, the Zika virus in 2015 and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, have highlighted the far-reaching economic and health consequences of zoonotic diseases.

With this in mind, One Health aims to prevent and control diseases more effectively, improve food safety and protect ecosystems. The concept emphasises the need for collaboration between different sectors — including medicine, veterinary science and environmental science — to comprehensively address health challenges.

In recent years, China has shown increasing awareness of the concept. The country has faced public health crises like the SARS outbreak and more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic; these have highlighted the need for a more integrated approach. Chinese authorities have taken steps to promote One Health, including collaboration between health and agriculture sectors, as well as efforts to monitor and control emerging infectious diseases.

Public awareness of the concept in China has also grown through education and media campaigns. People are becoming more conscious of the connections between human health, animal health and the environment. This awareness is essential for building a resilient healthcare system and preventing future health crises.

Information on the informed

Public awareness and acceptance of One Health are essential for its successful implementation, as such awareness equips people to make informed decisions about their actions and behaviours. Additionally, it can generate political will and commitment to One Health governance, facilitating its adoption and effectiveness in preventing pandemics.

Despite this, there has been insufficient research assessing public awareness of the concept among the general public. Previous studies mainly focused on professionals, revealing low public awareness. Thus, a recent study conducted by researchers at York University, University of Science and Technology Beijing, Toronto Metropolitan University and NYU Shanghai aimed to directly assess awareness among the general public in Beijing, China.

The study involved 1,820 respondents and aimed to distinguish between awareness of the term "One Health" and awareness of the core idea, i.e., the interconnectedness between the human and animal health and the environment.

The findings revealed that 40% of respondents reported they had heard of the term "One Health". Notably, over twice that number (83%) believe that people's health is closely linked to animal health, with 86% believing it is closely connected to plant and environmental health.

The study also delved into sociodemographic variations in One Health awareness, revealing that women, younger individuals and those with higher levels of education exhibited greater awareness. Furthermore, being aware of the term "One Health" was associated with a deeper recognition of the core ideas.

Implications on policy, practice and people

These findings underscore the importance of targeting specific groups, such as men and those with lower education levels, to raise awareness of both the term "One Health" and its core ideas. They also have significant implications for policymakers and health practitioners, highlighting the importance of designing public awareness campaigns and educational initiatives to promote One Health principles.

Policymakers and health practitioners should leverage these findings to develop effective public awareness campaigns and educational initiatives. Furthermore, future research should explore how awareness translates into action and influences perspectives related to policy interventions rooted in One Health, ultimately improving health outcomes for humans and animals.


Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information

Public awareness of One Health in China

Authors:​ Cary Wu, et al​.

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