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Addressing threats to health and well-being requires implementing a One Health approach, recognising the interdependence of people, animals, plants and ecosystems. In this statement, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), European Environment Agency (EEA), European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and European Medicines Agency (EMA) express their joint commitment as EU agencies to fully support the One Health agenda in Europe.
Europe is facing increasingly complex and frequent threats to health and well-being, from zoonotic disease outbreaks to extreme weather events. Many of these threats are linked to unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, and they serve as a stark reminder that human health is strictly interconnected with the health of animals, plants and ecosystems.
It is now widely acknowledged that responding to such threats requires the application of a One Health approach, a concept which recognises the need for transdisciplinary and multisectoral collaboration across the domains of human, animal, plant and ecosystem health. The approach has gained significant relevance in the European Union, and it is reflected in the ambitious goals contained in the European Green Deal, the European Health Union, and the EU Global Health Strategy.
Although ecosystem health dimensions have traditionally been less emphasised in the One Health approach, they are increasingly considered critical due to the role that environmental factors play in mediating health outcomes and influencing the emergence and spread of diseases. There is evidence that better including environmental aspects in One Health policies and interventions can reduce the incidence and societal costs of health threats, or even prevent their emergence.
For this reason, the European Environment Agency is working with the ECDC, ECHA, EFSA and EMA to ensure that scientific advice by EU agencies in the areas of environment, public health and food safety is increasingly integrated and aligned with the One Health approach. This collaboration has been recently underpinned by the establishment of a cross-agency task force on One Health.
The joint statement ‘Cross-agency knowledge for One Health action’ represents one of the first outputs of the task force. Published on the occasion of the ‘One Health for All, All for One Health’ conference organised by the European Commission on 13 November 2023, the statement outlines the EU agencies’ commitment to the One Health agenda in Europe and highlights a series of priorities for One Health action.