Emerging Global Health Approaches at the Human-Animal Interface: Conceptual and Historical Issues of One Health

Emerging Global Health Approaches at the Human-Animal Interface: Conceptual and Historical Issues of One Health

Walter Bruchhausen (University of Bonn, Germany)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 32
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6304-4.ch001

Abstract

The vagueness of the term one health is the result of multiple developments that it has brought together. Therefore, a historical and conceptual analysis, divided in three sections, is performed for understanding these tensions and their backgrounds. First, an account of different and changing attitudes towards animals and their health is given, especially in religion, modern philosophy, and pre-modern dealing with disease supposedly caused by animals and plants. The second part reconstructs early bacteriology as a search for environmental disease factors and a struggle with zoonoses in a globalized research effort. The final and largest section analyses the development of international policies on zoonoses and one health from the 1950s until today, sketching the way from a veterinarian and medical national public health issue via socio-economic perspectives to the perception of a global threat by emerging diseases which fueled inter-agency cooperation in an unprecedented manner.
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Background: Challenges For A Historiography Of One Health

In accordance with the complex development of the field, collected volumes (Atlas, 2013; Bresalier, Cassidy, & Woods, 2015) and lectures (Vandersmissen, 2010) on One Health usually start with a historical account. Such short historical accounts, as common in medical issues, are rather historiography of science or history of the veterinary profession, i.e. a history and especially also prehistory of the academic and professional approaches to the issues. But the history of the field itself and the related practice, i.e. the relations between human, animal and environment health and the routine attempts to influence them, is rarely touched. The reasons for this narrow focus of the retrospective are quite obvious. They touch more theoretical, even ideological arguments as well as rather pragmatic ones. A dominant professional reason is the common function of history in the sciences: Celebrating important founding and other leading figures is a successful way to assert the reputability of a discipline. Compared to this, looking at past daily practices, at routine activities in struggling with a continuous challenge seems to be less exciting and interesting than quoting great names. This is also true for One Health: Pointing to its development as a scientific approach including well known physicians and veterinarians appears more academic and supportive for professional politics (Bresalier, et al., 2015, p. 1) than raising its issues as practice and care to be researched.

Equally, the practice of historiographic research has good reasons to deal with One Health as an academic instead of a practical field. A history of changing ideas can easily evade the question what realities in today’s sense these concepts were addressing. And access to the necessary sources for a history of science is usually rather easy if they consist of original publications and secondary literature available in many libraries and even in the internet. Contrary to this comparatively simple approach to One Health as a recent Western science, a comprehensive history of health issues related to humans, animals and plants faces several challenges of epistemology and research practice.

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