5 good reasons to follow the One Sustainable Health Forum

©One Health

The One Health approach, which emerged in the 2000s, is essential to a better understanding of global health. However, it faces a major implementation challenge, which the One Sustainable Health Forum is seeking to overcome. Its international working groups will present their recommendations on December 11, 2023.

An article by Madeleine Trentesaux

1- What is the One Health approach?

One Health is an approach that recognizes the interconnections and dependencies between animal, human and global health at local, national and global levels. The term One Health emerged in the mid-2000s, notably following the epidemic events caused by SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in 2003, the H5N1 virus in 2008 and the H1N1 virus in 2009-2010. These various epidemics demonstrated the limits of global health, and led to the adoption of a new framework for action defined in the Manhattan Principles.

The international community, embodied by the WHO (World Health Organization), the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), the WOAH (World Organization for Animal Health, formerly OIE for Office International des Epizooties) and, more recently, the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) seized on this notion in the years 2008-2010, which became a watchword and a driving force for action. These four organizations now form what is known as the Quadripartite Alliance.

Logos of the international organizations of the Quadripartite Alliance

Linking One Health and humanitarian aid?

A working group of the One Sustainable Health Forum, whose approach is presented below, has set itself the specific objective of reflecting on the integration of the One Health approach into humanitarian activities taking place in emergency situations, in times of war or conflict. Over forty participants met in November 2023 for a seminar at the University of Geneva. Three main elements emerged from the discussions: listening to communities, establishing innovative financing and creating unusual partnerships. An analysis of this work will be presented in the next issue of Défis Humanitaires.

2- Three examples to illustrate the need for a One Health approach

The recent SARS-Cov-2 epidemic has once again highlighted the interconnections between animal, human and global health. The hypothesis of a zoonotic origin of the Covid-19 disease, the most likely for scientists, describes a species crossing by the virus, passing from animal to human.

Other examples, such as the Chlordecone scandal, highlight how an insecticide used in banana cultivation contaminates the environment and exposes humans to molecules harmful to their health.

Finally, the emergence of antibiotic resistance also illustrates the need for a One Health approach. Increased use of antibiotics in both animal and human health leads to resistance, which is then transmitted to our microbiota, those of animals and the environment.

These three examples highlight the interconnections between animal, human and global health. They underline the need for an approach that recognizes these dependencies and implements interdisciplinary and intersectoral actions to address them.

One Health, “Une seule santé”. Crédit : INRAE

3- The difficulties of implementing the One Health approach

In an interview with Défis Humanitaires in November 2021, Dr. Rafael Ruiz de Castañeda outlined the difficulties of implementing a One Health approach.

“On a national scale, the difficulty of adopting a One Health approach lies in the fact that we have created and organized our societies in a fragmented way. There is, for example, a ministry for human health, one for agriculture and yet another for the economy[1]. We often work in silos, and changes in behavior and ways of working are long and difficult to integrate.” (Interview extract)

For the latter, director of the One Health unit at the University of Geneva’s Faculty of Medicine, the obstacles lie in our siloed working habits. He therefore called for collaborative mechanisms to enable players to discuss and collaborate in the field.

4- OSH Forum – bringing together One Health players to operationalize the approach

The One Sustainable Health Forum (OSH Forum), founded in October 2020, aims to be a space for connecting One Health players to operationalize the approach. Spearheaded by the Fondation Une Santé Durable pour Tous, created by Benoît Miribel, the OSH Forum, in partnership with the World Health Summit, is launching a collaborative effort to define the global priorities and operational actions needed to achieve sustainable health for all. It calls for a three-pronged program to build inclusive and adaptive healthcare systems, as detailed on its website: promoting global health, investing to adapt to climate change, strengthening social protection systems.

To this end, six international working groups, each comprising academic and operational experts from the fields of animal, human and planetary health, are being launched in July 2021. Working group members have addressed biodiversity, nutrition, the human-environment relationship, healthcare, the financial resources needed for One Health, and ways of involving communities.

International Working Groups, IWG of the OSH Forum. ©One Sustainable Health

Led by a Scientific Advisory Board, the OSH Forum approach is cross-disciplinary and multidisciplinary. With more than fifty partners from civil society, it provides a forum for pooling ideas and putting the One Health approach into practice.

Functioning of the OSH Forum

5- To be continued: the recommendations of the OSH Forum experts on December 11, 2023

One Europe For Global Health

On the occasion of the French Presidency of the European Union during the 1st half of 2022, the members of the OSH Forum have decided to promote recommendations for a Europe of Health integrating the One Health and Global Health priorities. The initiative is co-organizing the “One Health: Preparedness, partnerships, and science to prevent systemic health risks” conference in Barcelona on November 29, 2023, to further strengthen the One Health approach at European level.

At the end of two years’ work, the OSH Forum’s international working groups will present their recommendations for Sustainable Health for All on December 11, 2023. Join us on Défis Humanitaires next month for an analysis of these recommendations and an interview with key members of the process.

Bibliography :

  • Badau, Estera, 2021, “A One Health perspective on the issue of the antibiotic resistance”, Parasite, Vol. 28, n 16, pp. 1-14.
  • Michalon, Jérôme, 2020, “Accounting for One Health: Insights from the Social Sciences”, Parasite, Vol. 27, n 56, pp. 1-10.


Madeleine Trentesaux

After studying anthropology and humanitarian policy at Nanterre University and Sciences Po Paris, Madeleine Trentesaux specialized in health anthropology and the evaluation of local development policies. In spring 2023, she carried out a field study with Fondation Mérieux and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) on antimicrobial resistance practices in Lebanon. Madeleine Trentesaux also works on research projects with various healthcare organizations.





Find Madeleine Trentesaux on :

LinkedIn : www.linkedin.com/in/madeleine-trentesaux-1257a8185

Défis Humanitaires :

CoCreate Humanity: peer support for the mental health of aid workers

CoCreate Humanity founders : Hélène Ros, Sébastien Couturier and Christoph Hensch

CoCreate Humanity (CCH) is a Swiss association that was co-founded in August 2019 in Geneva by Hélène Ros, Sébastien Couturier and Christoph Hensch, three humanitarians from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The association is a community of humanitarian peers that supports suffering aid workers and pays tribute to those who have lost their lives in the exercise of their humanitarian mission, who are or have been injured, kidnapped and imprisoned around the world.

Humanitarians’ mental health is challenged throughout their careers

Humanitarian workers, both local and international, need to be able to heal from traumatic situations and get on with their lives, while maintaining a balance between their humanitarian work and their personal and social lives.

For those who go abroad: working in the humanitarian sector means preparing to leave, adapting to new and difficult living conditions, and preparing to return to an environment that was familiar at the outset, and which will become foreign, abnormal and difficult on their return.

The beneficiaries of CoCreate Humanity’s peer-to-peer support are humanitarians suffering from burnout, compassion fatigue, stress, post-traumatic stress disorder and so on. The initiative is aimed at the younger generation of humanitarians, currently deployed staff, those in career transition, retirees and those left behind in the sector. It is also aimed at humanitarian organizations that do not have the budget to train and care for their staff.

For CoCreate Humanity, the challenge of mental health is threefold: pre-mission, by way of prevention; during the mission; and post-mission, in terms of the care and follow-up of humanitarian personnel.

CoCreate Humanity (CCH) provides a neutral, benevolent space for dialogue, with no ties to the employing organization. This neutral space and the associated services offer aid workers the opportunity to express themselves in confidence, without time constraints, without judgment, and without prejudice to the pursuit of their careers.

CoCreate Humanity dispenses many formations

Peer support is recognized as a real skill that complements the knowledge of mental health professionals. It is being professionalized around the world, with peer-help diplomas and the peer-helper profession already existing in Canada, France and, more recently, Switzerland.

“The peer helper is a member of staff who discloses that he or she is experiencing or has experienced a mental health problem. Sharing his or her experience and recovery story is intended to restore hope, serve as a role model, and offer inspiration, support and information to others in similar situations. The legitimacy of the peer helper’s intervention derives from their experience of the disorder, their experience of care and their recovery journey. Peer support enriches mental health systems with a new type of knowledge: experiential knowledge. This knowledge does not compete with the technical and theoretical knowledge of other professionals working in the field of mental health. It facilitates the establishment of an empathetic relationship based on trust and non-judgment, which encourages commitment to care.” – Nicolas Franck and Caroline Cellard, Pair-aidance en santé mentale – Une entraide professionnalisée, 2020.

CCH peer helping and the qualities required to become a peer helper

The humanitarian peer-helper uses his or her personal experience to develop trusting relationships with humanitarian colleagues. They never give advice, but answer the main questions that humanitarian workers have throughout their careers. This peer-to-peer relationship, with no hierarchical or managerial ties, is a prerequisite for providing a real breathing space.

CoCreate Humanity organizes social events to promote exchange and re-establish social ties, training and skills transfer, and carries out advocacy and memory work through the organization of concerts.

The association organizes two concerts a year: the March concert at the Rosey Concert Hall in Rolle, one of Switzerland’s most prestigious concert halls, and the December Concert du Souvenir to honor the work of humanitarians and pay tribute to those who have disappeared or been injured, kidnapped or imprisoned during their humanitarian missions.

Next Concert du Souvenir in Provins on the 9th December 2023

The choice of December is based on the personal story of Christoph Hensch, who survived the attack on the ICRC hospital in Novye Atagi, Chechnya, on December 17, 1996. An armed commando burst in in the middle of the night to kill as many aid workers as possible. Christoph was shot and left for dead, while six of his colleagues were murdered. The attack was one of the Red Cross movement’s greatest tragedies.

In the future, the association hopes that Geneva, the cradle of humanitarian aid, will become a center for reflection on the mental health and psychosocial well-being of humanitarian workers. CoCreate Humanity hopes to create the first psychosocial rehabilitation center for humanitarian workers in Geneva, following the example of the Athos homes created in 2021 by the French army for psychologically wounded soldiers. France plans to create ten Athos homes by 2030. The system has proved its worth, and should be extended to humanitarian aid workers.

“Human beings have a formidable capacity to rise from anything, even the worst, if they are well supported.” – Dr. Daniel Dufour, former war surgeon and medical coordinator for the ICRC, founder of the OGE method “à l’envers de l’ego”.

Hélène ROS

Hélène was born in Lyon (France) and moved to Switzerland in 2014. She is the eldest of six siblings and the daughter of two survivors of Pol Pot’s genocidal regime.

After graduating from the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne with a Diplôme d’études universitaires générales (DEUG) in law, she was forced to stop her studies when she wanted to go into international law. She discovered the world of logistics and the workings of international trade “on the job”, in various sectors such as agri-food, international moving and oil. Logistics took her to the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva in 2015 where she stayed for four years, mainly as executive assistant in private fundraising and humanitarian diplomacy.

Her family history led to her interest in the humanitarian world. First, her father’s meeting with a surgeon from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), who advised her to immigrate to France for delicate surgery on a gunshot wound to the left arm. Then came the actions of Handicap International, based in Lyon, in the fight against anti-personnel mines in his home country.

The trauma of war, never mentioned within a family, can generate suffering that spans several generations. Children, victims of this “violence of silence”, become collateral damage of the post-traumatic stress disorders suffered by their elders.

By co-founding the association CoCreate Humanity (CCH) with Christoph Hensch and Sébastien Couturier, Hélène wants to emphasize the importance of the duty to remember, of testimonials and of prevention for those who are about to embark on a humanitarian career. Recovery begins with speaking out, listening and simply feeling supported and part of a community.

CoCreate Humanity wants to take up this challenge as a community of peers, and so stay as close as possible to the very essence of humanitarian work: the human being himself.

Join the CoCreate Humanity team on Saturday December 9 at 8.30pm in Provins, 80 kilometers from Paris, to pay tribute to humanitarian workers with the Orchestre à cordes de la Garde républicaine and Julie Sévilla-Fraysse, cellist and CCH Ambassador.