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One Health in the Spotlight

The pandemic has brought “One Health” into the limelight. Of course, it is almost impossible to talk about the positive outcomes of the pandemic, but we can at least reflect on some silver linings. Among these, is the fact that it has thrust the concept of One Health into the spotlight. Hopefully, this will set in motion virtuous cycles. Among the stakeholders mentioning the concept is the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This agency established in June 2020 the Zoonotic Disease Integrated Action (ZODIAC) initiative to help countries prevent pandemics caused by zoonoses, that is, infectious diseases caused by bacteria, parasites, fungi, or viruses that can be transmitted from animals to humans. 

Several centers are part of the IAEA, including the Joint FAO/IAEA Centre of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture that houses the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory Network (VETLAB). This center, through this network, has guided many countries with the detection of the virus causing COVID-19.   

What is the IAEA? 

It is an autonomous international organization within the United Nations (UN) system, and it partners with more than a dozen UN organizations. According to its website, it is “the international centre for cooperation in the nuclear field. The Agency works with its Member States and multiple partners worldwide to promote the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technologies.” 

What is VETLAB? 

VETLAB is an association of national veterinary laboratories in African and Asian countries planning to expand into Central and Eastern Europe, the Caribbean, and Latin America. Its role is to assist Member States to improve national laboratory capacities to early detect and control transboundary animal and zoonotic diseases threatening livestock and public health. 

ZODIAC in a few words 

This initiative is looking to strengthen the preparedness and capabilities of Member States to rapidly detect and timely respond to outbreaks of zoonotic diseases. Even being highly specialized and focused, and mostly bringing experts in the areas of human and animal health, it exemplifies One Health in action. This is because its deep dive starts from a One Health platform. The initiative does not only encompass experts from different areas, but it also taps into the expertise of laboratories of various multilateral organizations, such as the FAO and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). 

By Olga Muñoz, One Health Center Graduate Assistant

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