PLoS One

PLoS One
[Accessed 28 January 2017]

Research Article
Justice Is the Missing Link in One Health: Results of a Mixed Methods Study in an Urban City State
Tamra Lysaght, Benjamin Capps, Michele Bailey, David Bickford, Richard Coker, Zohar Lederman, Sangeetha Watson, Paul Anantharajah Tambyah
Research Article | published 27 Jan 2017 PLOS ONE

One Health (OH) is an interdisciplinary collaborative approach to human and animal health that aims to break down conventional research and policy ‘silos’. OH has been used to develop strategies for zoonotic Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID). However, the ethical case for OH as an alternative to more traditional public health approaches is largely absent from the discourse. To study the ethics of OH, we examined perceptions of the human health and ecological priorities for the management of zoonotic EID in the Southeast Asia country of Singapore.

We conducted a mixed methods study using a modified Delphi technique with a panel of 32 opinion leaders and 11 semi-structured interviews with a sub-set of those experts in Singapore. Panellists rated concepts of OH and priorities for zoonotic EID preparedness planning using a series of scenarios developed through the study. Interview data were examined qualitatively using thematic analysis.

We found that panellists agreed that OH is a cross-disciplinary collaboration among the veterinary, medical, and ecological sciences, as well as relevant government agencies encompassing animal, human, and environmental health. Although human health was often framed as the most important priority in zoonotic EID planning, our qualitative analysis suggested that consideration of non-human animal health and welfare was also important for an effective and ethical response. The panellists also suggested that effective pandemic planning demands regional leadership and investment from wealthier countries to better enable international cooperation.

We argue that EID planning under an OH approach would benefit greatly from an ethical ecological framework that accounts for justice in human, animal, and environmental health.