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 :

East North Syria

Interview with Patrice Franceschi

Jean-Michel Banquer, former French Minister of Education, with Patrice Franceschi, Khaled Issa and commanders of Christian units of the Syrian Democratic Forces in northeast Syria.

Alain Boinet: Patrice, you’ve just returned from another trip to Northeast Syria. What is the current situation and what are the main issues?

Patrice Franceschi: The situation of the Syrian Democratic Forces – an alliance of Kurds, Christians and anti-Islamist Arabs from the north and east of Syria – is more precarious than ever, unless we deny it. Since the partial abandonment of the Kurds by us Westerners in October 2019 and the subsequent Turkish invasion, the gains of the victorious military campaign against Daech between autumn 2014 and summer 2019 have largely been lost. The then-liberated and unified region – four times the size of Lebanon – has become a shifting mosaic where Russian, American, French, Syrian and Turkish forces intersect, with a growing resurgence of Daech sleeper cells. In short, a big mess, to put it bluntly, instead of a territory totally at peace, as it still was in September 2019…

The Turks are maneuvering everywhere to destabilize the region, advance their pawns and conquer as much territory as possible with the help of their Islamist auxiliaries. The latter are either Syrian mercenaries or Daech jihadists recycled under other names. The Kurds thus face a considerable number of challenges: the “water war” waged by the Turks, who regulate the dams on the Euphrates for their own benefit in order to starve the populations of northern Syria by reducing agricultural production, the regular “droning” of Kurdish civilian and military leaders whenever they move, indiscriminate bombing in the countryside by the Turkish air force, The same applies to specific civilian targets – flour mills, grain silos, power plants, schools, hospitals – an ever-tightening blockade of the tiny border crossing to Iraqi Kurdistan, to reduce the country’s economy to nothing, maneuvers by Turkish and Iranian secret services to incite the Arab tribes of the FDS to rebel, etc. .. The list goes on.

Since June 2021, Turkey has reduced the amount of water in the Euphrates for Syria from 500 m3 second to 214m3 by holding back this water in its upstream dams.

It’s been a long time since I’ve heard Turkish long-range artillery strike at random to terrorize the population. Now it’s a regular occurrence. Especially at night. The town of Amuda, where I regularly stay, has for the first time been deprived of street lighting by the destruction of its power station. Life is becoming very hard and uncertain for the Kurds, Christians and Arabs of the region. This undermines their unity and the confidence they have in their leaders – which is what Ankara is aiming for, as it increases its aggressiveness in proportion to our passivity.

I have also seen for myself that the Turks – and the Iranians, which is new – no longer hesitate to use their drones to bomb the Kurdish forces based in the American camps around Hassaké. This has never happened before. It should be noted that when these bombardments hit camps for displaced Kurds, Western NGOs decide to stop their work and leave the camps, which makes the situation even worse.

As far as the political stakes are concerned, they haven’t changed: the security interests of the Kurds and the West, particularly the French, are as intimately linked as ever in the face of the resurgence of the Turkish-backed Islamic State. These Islamists dream of hitting us again, and as hard as possible. At least, that’s what the hardest jihadist prisoners are saying. At least the Kurds are still willing to keep them at home. It’s up to us to increase our support for the FDS before it’s too late.

Alain Boinet: Jean-Michel Blanquer, the former Minister of Education, accompanied you. What is the significance of his presence with you in north-eastern Syria?

Patrice Franceschi : For months, I had been proposing to a number of prominent French personalities that they accompany me to Syrian Kurdistan, so that I could see the situation at first hand, and then intervene in their sphere of activity to support the Kurds. In the end, all these personalities declined, except Jean-Michel Blanquer. So the three of us left, along with Khaled Issa, the representative in France of the self-administration of northern and eastern Syria – as the region is now called… And since the former minister was going there on his own initiative, the President of the Republic entrusted him with a message of support for the FDS – which we of course passed on to the region’s political and military leaders. Let’s hope that these words will now be followed by deeds.

Along the road to Amuda, abandoned buildings under construction. @Alain Boinet

Alain Boinet: Kurds seem to be under threat in every country in the region. How do you interpret this? Is it a coincidence?

Patrice Franceschi: There’s no such thing as a coincidence. What the Kurds are proposing as a model of society where they have control of a territory, especially in northern Syria, is unbearable for the region’s satraps: democracy, equality between men and women, secularism, respect for minorities… all this is a nightmare for these regimes, from Damascus to Ankara and from Baghdad to Teheran. They fear contagion of this model at home, and are doing everything in their power to destroy it. What’s more, these despots are driven by an ontological contempt for the Kurds, whom they regard and treat everywhere as subhuman, so you can imagine the hatred they harbor.

Alain Boinet: Is the war between Israel and Hamas changing the regional balance? What are the consequences for the FDS? What is the new strategic challenge?

Patrice Franceschi : For the time being, there are no visible consequences. But it’s probably too early to draw any conclusions. Kurdish officials simply note that it is mainly the Iranians who are maneuvering. The Hamas attack on Israel was coordinated with the revolt against the FDS by the Arab tribes of Der-es-Zor on the Euphrates. Iranian intelligence was behind this large-scale revolt. The Kurds discovered this involvement once the revolt had been put down, thanks to the loyalty of the majority of the Arab members of the FDS.

When these same Kurdish leaders observe, moreover, that Erdogan supports Hamas after having supported the Azeris against the Armenians, they say to themselves that the outposts of democracy in the East – in their eyes: Armenia, Kurdistan, Israel – do indeed have the same enemies who are coordinating their efforts in the same timetable to make them all disappear. In their view, it’s time to forge new alliances between these three “indigenous” nations to face up to this challenge.

Alain Boinet: How would you like to conclude this interview?

Patrice Franceschi : The most important thing is to realize that these three conflicts are interconnected, that to be effective we can’t privilege one at the expense of the others, and that we need to fight on all three fronts together. This is what the Kurdish leaders think, and I can only agree with them. Of course, this battle goes beyond humanitarian action, unfortunately, and is being fought on political and military levels alone.

Patrice Franceschi

Writer and humanitarian

Corsican adventurer, political philosopher and French writer – winner of the 2015 Goncourt short story prize – Patrice Franceschi is also an aviator and sailor. He has always divided his life between writing and adventure. He has multiplied his land, air and sea expeditions around the world. He has also led numerous humanitarian missions in war-torn countries, from Bosnia to Somalia, lived among the indigenous peoples of the most remote regions – Papuans, Indians, Pygmies, Nilotics – and spent many years in the ranks of the Afghan resistance fighting the Soviet army. He has also been an active supporter of the Syrian Kurds on the ground since the start of their fight against the Islamic State. His novels, stories, poetry and essays are inseparable from a committed, free and tumultuous existence in which he attempts to “exhaust the field of the possible”. A reserve officer, he also belongs to the prestigious group of naval writers.


Find Patrice Franceschi on Défis Humanitaires :