One Health: Joint Health Research
The fate of humans and animals is often linked in various ways through pathogens. Around 60% of all disease germs can infect humans and animals to the same extent. To face up to this challenge, the close cooperation of physicians, veterinarians and other health experts is being sought all over the world in "One Health" initiatives. A European One Health programme started at the beginning of the year in which more than 40 partners from 19 European countries are participating. "Antimicrobial resistance and threats through new pathogens are controversial examples of the extent to which the health and illness of humans, animals and the environment are linked together," says Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel, President of the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR). "A joint European research programme under the auspices of One Health can help to counter microbial risks effectively." The German partners of the European Joint Programme on One Health are the BfR, the Friedrich Loeffler Institute and the Robert Koch Institute.
The goal of the European Joint Programme (EJP) is to build up a European platform for One Health which satisfies the needs of European and national political decision makers and interest groups (stakeholders). To this end, European institutions from the fields of medicine, veterinary medicine and consumer health protection in the food sector are to expand their cooperation in order to achieve progress in the containment of foodborne zoonoses (infections transferred between humans and animals), antimicrobial resistance and new infection hazards (emerging threats).
The One Health concept takes into account the close link between human health, animal health and the environment. Accordingly, the close connection between the safety of feeds and foods and human and animal health and environmental contamination is observed. The examination of infectious pathogens which can be transferred from animals to humans is an important focal point of this EJP, a new research programme within the EU framework programme for research and innovation “Horizon 2020” sponsored by the European Commission. The One Health EJP (Grant Agreement 773830) is headed by the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES).
The cooperation between the 40 partners is to be strengthened by the programme. Each partner also has reference tasks, which means that they set the yardstick for examinations. They already form an organised network and represent a research community in the thematic areas of foodborne zoonoses, antimicrobial resistance and emerging threats. Over a total period of five years, a sum of € 90 million is to be spent on activities within this network. 50% of the costs are being provided by the European Commission with the other half being carried by each respective member state.
The One Health EJP will generate scientific data, methods and software programs which can be used by national and European institutions to assess health risks and possible preventive measures. An exchange with other large-scale projects sponsored by the European Commission will be guaranteed at the same time. One of the tasks will be the efficient and regular transfer of knowledge between the research community and national authorities, as well as international and European stakeholders.
A further goal of the One Health EJP is the expansion of collaboration between the institutes through interdisciplinary cooperation. This is to be realised through joint research projects and integrative schemes, as well as basic and further training measures. The BfR is involved in five research projects and two integrative schemes and is heading the “Science to Policy Translation” work package, in which measures for the best possible transfer of results from the research projects and integrative schemes to the stakeholders involved in the areas of foodborne zoonoses, antimicrobial resistance and emerging threats are to be developed.
The BfR is also coordinating the integrative project “ORION” (One health surRveillance Initiative on harmOnisation of data collection and interpretation). The main focus of this project is the exchange of data and information generated during the monitoring, collection and interpretation of data on health and wellbeing. Cooperation among the institutions is also being further improved through the cooperation of 13 institutes from seven countries active in the fields of public health and veterinary medicine.
About the BfR
The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. It advises the Federal Government and Federal Laender on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.
This text version is a translation of the original German text which is the only legally binding version.