GHMT’s researchers Tiago Correia and Paulo Ferrinho, in collaboration with Brazilian colleague Cláudio Tadeu-Ribeiro from Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, wrote an Editorial Commentary for a soon to be released issue of the academic journal «One Health».
Their piece, titled «Calling for a planetary and one health vision for global health», challenges the vision that the concepts of «Global Health», «One Health» and «Planetary Health» should compete among themselves, excluding one another, proposing their merger under the «Global Health» label.
The three authors’ thesis is that having «competing narratives about how health related knowledge and interventions should be considered in the 21st century» can have deleterious consequences on health. The COVID19 pandemic, they argued, is the poster child for it, showing that there was a collective failure of scientists, politicians, journalists, activists in tying science, healthcare, economics, and politics. The rarity or absence of the necessary precautionary measures, learned from previous outbreaks, increased the risks and impacts of the pandemic.
How can that conceptual competition somehow negatively influence the onset and spread of epidemics?
Countries fight diseases putting in place appropriate public health policies, based, hopefully, on scientific data. However, everyone has biases and these can be incorporated in socio-political systems, creating unnecessary, if not harmful, boundaries between closely related ideas
The above-mentioned concepts entail three health worldviews that can frame data accordingly:
«Global Health» is usually understood exclusively in terms of human health, nationally or internationally;
«One Health» includes human, animal and plants’ health and their environmental contexts;
«Planetary Health» encompasses the previous dimensions, adding human, political, economic, social systems and their consequences on nature.
Hence, the concepts are connected by relatively stable genetic principles; however, the different understandings, purposes and outcomes of those labels result from the scientific fields’ institutionalisation socio-political process.
To have a clearly defined concept in this area is important not for the sake of science or linguistics, but for the sake of the planet and its inhabitants. New epidemics will occur and the more we, humans, alter or destroy ecosystems and climates the worse will it be.
The three researchers concluded that the «Global Health» concept should stand out as the overarching concept encompassing the attributes of «One Health» and «Planetary Health». The consequence of their proposal is a conceptual understanding of «Global Health» with a broad perspective concerned with, not only, the syndemic effects of environmental change on human and animal health, but also with the political, economic, and social systems that govern those effects.
Hence, they adopted the position of «fostering a Planetary and One Health vision for Global Health».
The three authors’ holistic vision for «Global Health», one can conclude, should encompass all UN’s SDGs, since every single one influences health and well-being.