More than 100 Indian healthcare professionals unite to fight the pandemic and its causes
Over the last few months, the healthcare systems of countries across the world were pushed to their breaking point with the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic. To address the issues in the healthcare system, more than a hundred healthcare professionals have joined hands with FIAPO under the “Doctors for One Health” initiative.
This initiative not only endorses ‘One Health’ doctrine by the World Health Organisation, but also urges the government to immediately ban wet markets, and pushed for the enforcement of harsher rules and closures of slaughterhouses that do not follow FSSAI guidelines and rules under The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Slaughter House) Rules, 2001.
'One Health' by WHO is an approach to designing and implementing programmes, policies, legislation. and research in which multiple areas like food safety, the control of zoonoses (diseases that can spread between animals and humans), and combatting antibiotic resistance.
Talking about the need for this initiative, Dr Rajanikant Nayak, Krupasindhu Ayurvedic Seva Sadan, states, "It is high time we move towards a scientific approach that recognises the unmitigated potential of assessing the state of human, animal and environment wellness, and see wellbeing as no longer detached, but reliant and related to each other. The One Health doctrine is the key to a door that has been locked for a long time."
‘Doctors for One Health’ also acts as a network to collectively unite doctors from renowned institutions such as AIIMS Delhi, Lady Harding Medical College, and Maulana Azad College among others.
The initiative comes at a time when hospitals are highly understaffed, and the norms and prerequisites of treatment have put a severe strain on medical facilities.
While COVID-19 is just one of the many menaces that the world is facing, it is a recent example of the complex threats of emerging infectious diseases. Emerging infections in humans and animals, along with other threats such as antimicrobial resistance, to a large extent are driven by increasing demand for unsustainable animal agriculture.
Considering this, the initiative seeks to address unethical animal-based consumption, and provide healthy and sustainable plant-based alternatives.
“The One Health approach is not only a smarter and more holistic approach to adopt, but – with the unified voice of Indian healthcare professionals – it is also one that presents a compelling and powerful catalyst for change,” says Varda Mehrotra, Executive Director, Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO).
“The goals of the collaboration facilitate a safe and sustainable world free of zoonotic viruses, as well a revamped, more robust health infrastructure,” she adds.
The initiative underlines the importance of how a planned approach can bring down pandemic viruses like the SARS-CoV-2.
“I am proud of the community rallying towards this noble, and necessary cause. One Health requires us to think of an animal and human health together,” says Dr Mini Khurana, MBBS, Lady Harding Medical College.
As its first undertaking, the team has submitted a petition to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, highlighting the need to bring a change in the wet markets, considering that they are often a hotbed of diseases. The petition also advocates for enforcing a strong ban on wildlife consumption.
Dr Anil Kumar, Ayurvedic Medical Officer, Department of Ayush, Health and Family Welfare, Government of Odisha, points out,
"Whenever voices in a community – such as our medical ones – come together, it can be a wonderful catalyst for pronounced change. Therefore, this initiative of Indian doctors to advocate for One Health of humans and animals can pave the way for something truly remarkable.”