Animals and the environment have continued to thrive while much of human society has been in lockdown or under stringent social controls since since COVID-19 expanded internationally in 2020. But the pandemic has forced many researchers and decision-makers to reconsider how to treat animals and our place in the wide ecosystem of other living things.
The One Health policy framework, which holds that people, animals, and the environment should all have the same rights to healthcare, is described in a recent paper by Laurie Sellars, Kimberly Bernotas, and Jeff Sebo in the journal Health and Human Rights. It makes sense to encourage healthy systems in order to have healthy residents because all three are interconnected.
There was a lot of conjecture around the origins of COVID early in the pandemic, including the zoonotic transmission of the illness from bats to humans. This discussion illustrated how the exploitation of animals—whether through trade or the degradation of habitats—can cause epidemics and the spread of illness.
By promoting health measures for plants, animals, and their surrounding environment, the One Health policy framework aims to address this issue. The authors also contend that society might lessen the effects of the current epidemic and possibly prevent future outbreaks by understanding how organisms are linked and dependent on one another.
The United Nations incorporated “the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest achievable quality of bodily and mental health” into the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights in 1966.
The notion that only people have the right to healthcare, however, has been challenged by a number of academics. According to the authors, “[s]cientists utilize theories as abstract taxonomic categories to explain specific facts about evolution, cognition, and behavior.”
One Health, for instance, may show how activities like factory farming, deforestation, and the trade in wildlife affect people, animals, and the environment, highlighting the need for solutions.