India’s Single Health Approach to Addressing Future Pandemics

The Covid-19 outbreak exposed flaws in the world’s health systems, even those in high-ranking countries on the Global Health Security Index. It has also provided a chance to strengthen health-care systems in order to better avoid and respond to future pandemics. In order to avoid, prepare for, and respond to pandemics, India’s One Health concept strives to address the health of humans, animals, and ecosystems all at once.

What is the Prime Minister’s Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission (PM ABHIM)?

  • PM ABHIM is being implemented as India’s largest health infrastructure expansion plan.
  • Its goal is to ensure a strong public health infrastructure in both urban and rural areas that is capable of responding to public health emergencies or disease outbreaks.

Key aspects include:

  • Centres for Health and Wellness: In order to improve accessibility, it will fund 17,788 rural HWC in 10 ‘high emphasis’ states and create 11,024 urban HWC across the country.
  • Exclusive Critical Care Hospital Blocks: Through ‘Exclusive Critical Care Hospital Blocks,’ it would ensure access to critical care services in all districts of the country with a population of over five lakh people.
  • Integrated public health labs: It will also be established in all districts, providing individuals with “a full range of diagnostic services” via a nationwide network of laboratories.
  • The mission also aspires to develop an IT-enabled disease surveillance system via a network of surveillance laboratories at the block, district, regional, and national levels.
  • The Integrated Health Information Portal will connect all public health labs and will be expanded to all states and UTs, according to the PMO.

What does it mean to have one health?

  • One Health is an interdisciplinary approach to human, animal, and environmental health that recognises the interdependence of these three domains.
  • It emphasises the importance of collaboration across sectors, such as public health, veterinary medicine, environmental research, and others, in order to achieve optimal health results for everybody.

Main elements of India’s One Health strategy

  • Ayushman Bharat Mission PM-ABHIM (Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission): The flagship programme, which will be launched in October 2021, will strive to avoid, prepare for, and respond to pandemics. It aims to close gaps in national and state health-care systems.
  • National Institute for One Health: The institute’s foundation was recently laid in Nagpur. It will identify hotspots for endemic and developing zoonotic illnesses in order to prevent their spread.
  • Establishment of a genomic monitoring network: During the COVID-19 epidemic, India established a strong network of institutes capable of identifying novel viruses. This is now being supplemented by more extensive testing of wastewater and samples from approaching ships and aircraft.
  • Coordination among ministries: To resolve overlapping duties and improve coordination, several ministries, including health, animal husbandry, forests, and biotechnology, have been brought under the supervision of the Principal Scientific Advisor.
  • Expansion of research laboratories: India is broadening its network of research facilities, which were previously primarily focused on influenza, to include all respiratory viruses of unknown origin.
  • Collaborations between research organisations and producers: Indian manufacturers developed vaccinations, test kits, medicines, masks, and other things at extremely reasonable costs for both India and other countries. Partnerships between research organisations and manufacturers will need to be maintained and strengthened in order for India to become a global biopharma centre.
  • Clinical trial network: The National Biopharma Mission’s clinical trial network is a great step towards enhancing access to cheap new vaccines and treatments in India and around the world.
  • Ayushman Bharat Digital Health initiative: The initiative can help bring private hospitals and clinics together on a single platform and put data in the public domain to supplement surveillance in vulnerable areas.
  • Municipalities are required to issue early warnings: Municipal governments have been tasked with identifying the most vulnerable regions and issuing early warnings. To identify emerging illnesses, robust cooperation with communities, dairy cooperatives, and the poultry industry will be required.

What are the potential advantages of the One Health approach?

  • The One Health approach considers the connection of human, animal, and environmental health. By using a comprehensive approach, it is possible to gain a greater knowledge of the intricate relationships between human, animal, and environmental health, which can lead to more successful treatments and solutions.
  • The One Health concept emphasises the need of early disease detection in animals, which can act as an early warning system for possible human outbreaks. This strategy has the potential to help minimise disease spread and lower the risk of pandemics.
  • Better disease surveillance: The One Health concept promotes better disease monitoring by allowing the sharing of information and resources across sectors such as human health, animal health, and environmental health.
  • More effective responses: The One Health strategy can lead to more successful outbreak responses by promoting collaboration and guaranteeing a coordinated response across sectors and stakeholders.
  • Improved animal health: Because the One Health approach recognises the importance of animal health and welfare, it has the potential to improve animal health through better disease control and prevention strategies.
  • Improved environmental management: The One Health approach acknowledges the importance of environmental management and conservation, which can lead to more sustainable environmental practises that improve both human and animal health.

@the end

India’s One Health strategy is a step in the right direction towards addressing the health of people, animals, and ecosystems all at once. The country’s attempts to combat future pandemics are praiseworthy, and their success will be vital. The emergence of new pathogens, zoonotic diseases, and antibiotic resistance emphasises the importance of a comprehensive approach to preventing future pandemics. India’s efforts to strengthen health systems, prevent pandemics, and respond to outbreaks will help protect its inhabitants while also setting a global example.

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