Covid-19 a reminder human, animal health interconnected: Harsh Vardhan
While talking about zoonotic viruses, Harsh Vardhan said India is one of the four global hotspots for the emergence of zoonotic diseases and added that “we are struggling even after 15 months".
Union minister Harsh Vardhan said on Monday the increased interaction between humans and animals has made it impossible to view issues of human health in isolation, adding that the Covid-19 pandemic shows that they are closely connected. “With increased interaction between humans and animals, human health can't be seen in isolation and Covid-19 is more than a reminder,” Harsha Vardhan said.
Vardhan was speaking at the ‘One Health in India: Research Informing Biosafety, Preparedness and Response’ symposium organised by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). The One Health—an interdisciplinary approach that views human and animal health to be interconnected—gained traction at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic last year.
“The ‘One Health’ approach recognises that people's health is closely connected with animals' health,” he said at the symposium. “Covid19 demonstrates the rapid spread of novel pathogens which can have a significant impact on the global economy. Preparedness for and mitigation of such events require a 'One Health' approach,” he added.
While talking about zoonotic viruses, Vardhan said India is one of the four global hotspots for the emergence of zoonotic diseases and added that the coronavirus has caused much damage around the world and “we are struggling even after 15 months".
Vardhan also stressed the changes in climate and land use pattern causing disruptions in natural habitats of animals opening up new ways for diseases to spread. “The earth has experienced changes in climate and land use with practices like deforestation and intensive farming. Disruptions in environmental habitats can provide new opportunities for diseases to pass to animals,” he said.
During the budget session, Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman launched the Prime Minister Aatmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana, with an outlay of about ₹64,180 crore over a period of six years, which included the setting up of a national institution for the ‘One Health’ approach.
"Health and well being have formed the topmost priority of the Union Government during the ongoing Covid-19 health crisis. It is the foremost of the six crucial pillars that form the foundation of the Union Budget," the minister had said in Parliament.
Vardhan also announced the creation of an Eco-Health initiative for India, which will be supported by the National Institute of One Health. He also launched the Indian Journal of Medical Research’s special issue on ‘One Health’.