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India Leads in One Health Initiative with Advanced Legal Framework, Says Dr. Vinod Paul

New Delhi: India is at the forefront of developing a comprehensive legal framework to support and strengthen the One Health initiative, showcasing the country’s advanced thought process and leadership in this area, stated Dr. Vinod Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog. He inaugurated a two-day National Consultation on Legal Environment Assessment for the One Health initiative today, emphasizing the critical linkages between human, animal, and plant ecosystems, particularly in the wake of COVID-19.

The event, held in New Delhi, featured the participation of Apurva Chandra, Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW), Ms. Leena Nandan, Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), and Rajiv Mani, Secretary, Ministry of Law & Justice, among other key stakeholders.

Dr. Paul highlighted the interconnected health challenges posed by zoonoses, antimicrobial resistance (AMR), food safety, and climate change. He stressed the need for a multi-sectoral approach to address these issues, aligning with India’s commitment to the Prime Minister’s vision of “One Earth, One Health.” He mentioned India’s proactive steps, such as framing the National Action Plan (NAP) 2.0 for addressing AMR and conceptualizing the One Health Mission, which focus on broader climate change issues.

Apurva Chandra noted that more than 75% of diseases affecting humans are zoonotic, underscoring the importance of the One Health approach. He reiterated the Ministry’s commitment to preventing and managing risks at the human-animal-plant interface. He acknowledged gaps and overlaps in India’s current legislative framework and highlighted the importance of support from line ministries and states in implementing One Health goals.

Leena Nandan emphasized the need for a unified approach among different ministries to achieve One Health goals. She assured that the Environment Ministry would make necessary provisions under existing wildlife and environmental acts to ensure human health and conservation of wild animals. She highlighted the importance of capacity building for on-ground functionaries and communities for the successful implementation of the One Health initiative.

Rajiv Mani reaffirmed the Ministry of Law and Justice’s support in amending or changing existing laws and policy frameworks to align with the One Health principle. This commitment aims to protect the health of all species, including animals and the environment.

The National Centre for Disease Control and Directorate General of Health Services are organizing this two-day multi-stakeholder National Consultation. The event aims to assess the current legal framework, foster multi-sectoral dialogue, develop actionable recommendations, and promote inter-sectoral collaboration for One Health activities in India. Topics include IHR, biosafety, zoonoses, antimicrobial resistance, food-borne illnesses, and climate change.

The consultation aims to:

  1. Assess the current legal framework: Identify strengths, gaps, and overlaps in existing laws impacting One Health activities.
  2. Foster multi-sectoral dialogue: Bring together stakeholders from government, academia, industry, and civil society to discuss legal challenges and opportunities.
  3. Develop actionable recommendations: Formulate proposals to enhance the legal environment for the One Health approach.
  4. Promote inter-sectoral collaboration: Strengthen partnerships among sectors responsible for human, animal, and environmental health.

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