The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and the World Health Organization (WHO) work together to promote multisectoral responses to public health threats originating in the animal-human-environment interface and to provide technical advice on how to reduce these risks.
In April 2021, the Regional One Health Coordination Mechanism on “One Health” for Europe and Central Asia was established by FAO, WOAH, and WHO. Later, UNEP also joined. The mechanism provides strategic leadership and serves as a starting point for identifying common priorities, coordinating efforts, planning joint activities, and monitoring progress to address health threats originating in the human-animal-environment interface in Europe and Central Asia.
This is done in close cooperation with key partners including other UN and international organizations, civil society, and academia.
As of April 2022, WHO Regional Office for Europe is chairing the forum. This retreat is the first activity in this setting.
The aim of the retreat is to update on One Health-related work, progress, and plans of each organization, consult on the way forward for further operationalizing the Concept of “One Health”, and to further develop and strengthen the coordination mechanism. Specifically, the objectives of the retreat are:
Representatives from the European regional offices of FAO, WOAH, UNEP, and WHO met on 31 May and 1 June in the offices of the United Nations in Bonn to look at ways to operationalize “One Health” in the region.
The four organizations reviewed the work carried out so far and explored potential collaboration for the future, plans, road maps, and strategies. A collaborative project in Tajikistan to combat antimicrobial resistance and an initiative in Azerbaijan to address zoonotic diseases were among the activities identified for the near future. The mechanisms to further strengthen coordination among the four organizations were supported by the creation of a Communication Working Group.
‘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.
The areas of work in which a One Health approach is particularly relevant include control of zoonotic diseases, antimicrobial resistance, neglected tropical diseases, food safety, laboratory services, and environmental health. All these areas cover complex issues that require close collaboration across sectors, stakeholders, and countries.
The collaboration between these 4 organizations has been formalized in a quadripartite commitment to strengthen their long-standing partnership.