16. UN shall adopt a ‘one health approach’ integrating veterinary medicine and environmental science to mitigate disease emergence and antimicrobial resistance and to ensure the continuation of agriculture and civilization

Rapporteur: Laura H. Kahn, MD, MPH, MPP; Research Scholar, Princeton University

One Health is the concept that human, animal, environmental/ecosystem, and atmospheric health are linked. It is a relatively new term but an ancient concept intuitively understood by indigenous peoples around the world. The One Health concept provides a useful framework for analyzing and addressing complex, interdisciplinary problems such as foodborne and waterborne illnesses, antimicrobial resistance, food security, and even climate change.

We live in a microbial world. We need to learn how to live better in it. We need to learn how to sustainably co-exist with the microbes living in us, on us, and around us.

For example, over 7 billion humans and almost 30 billion domesticated animals produce trillions of kilograms of fecal matter that contain billions of microbes. Each year, the massive amounts of fecal matter produced could fill an estimated 1.6 million Olympic-sized swimming pools. According to the World Bank(1), over 2 billion people don’t have access to basic sanitation systems, and almost 9 million of them practice open defecation. Open defecation, as the name suggests, means squatting and defecating out in the open. Many developing countries lack basic sanitation systems for human fecal matter, much less for animal fecal matter which makes up 80 percent of the total fecal matter produced.

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