One Health, One Ethics

Contemporary Issues in Bioethics | Vol. 2

In its current mandate, the CNECV has chosen the One Health approach as a priority, intending to develop knowledge and disseminate information, as well as to deepen reflection and foster public debate, going beyond theoretical-conceptual discussions to concrete and concerted action at local, regional and global level.

The concept of One Health expresses an indissoluble unity between human, animal, and ecosystem health. It is also an ethical attitude or integrated relationship between humans and other beings and their habitat. In One Health, ethics plays a crucial role in decision-making processes and the formulation of guidelines, based on principles of responsibility, respect for vulnerability, and global justice.

The deterioration of the environment and ecosystems, fuelled by climate change, has contributed to the worsening of multiple diseases of environmental and animal origin, leading to the emergence of epidemics and pandemics, such as COVID-19. In this context, the World Health Organisation (WHO) considers the One Health approach best suited to prevent future pandemics. As a call to action, the CNECV therefore proposes recommendations to maximise the potential of One Health:

- At a public policy level, the CNECV recommends "One Health in all policies", with an intersectoral approach. The creation of an inter-ministerial group will aim to design a national plan to coordinate resources and monitor their implementation for a better response to epidemics, pandemics, and other extreme events, through integrated surveillance and monitoring systems. The Council also recommends stepping up international cooperation, with more effective ways of collaborating and sharing resources at global, regional and local levels.

- At the institutional and socio-professional level, the CNECV advises that the exact sciences, social sciences and humanities be called upon to reflect and act in an integrated and collaborative manner. In the context of research, educational and professional institutions, cooperation in the various areas of activity, up-to-date training for those involved, the dissemination of objective and accurate information, as well as open and transparent communication was considered essential.

- At the level of citizenship, specifically regarding civil society associations and organisations responsible for promoting human rights, it is recommended that political, scientific, professional and social interlocutors take on their responsibilities to encourage informed and committed intervention by citizens in decision-making, promoting literacy in all age groups and combating misinformation in the context of One Health.

With the publication of this volume of the Bioethics collection, Contemporary Issues, the CNECV takes another step in its commitment to society, contributing to an open, enlightened, informed public debate for a life together in fair, cooperative and supportive institutions.

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