One Health

Find out more about One Health – a key priority of the interim Australian Centre for Disease Control (CDC).

What is One Health and why is it important?

The interim Australian CDC uses the World Health Organization’s definition of One Health, which is that One Health is “an integrated, unifying approach that aims to sustainably balance and optimize the health of people, animals and ecosystems”. 

One Health is not a new concept, however, it has become more important as the pressure on global ecosystems has increased due to human population growth, increased international travel, habitat destruction and the effects of climate change.

Some 60% of emerging infectious diseases that are reported globally are zoonoses. Over 30 new human pathogens have been detected in the last three decades, 75% of which have originated in animals. Common examples include COVID-19, Japanese encephalitis virus infection, rabies, Salmonella, ringworm and Hendra virus infection. 

Taking a One Health approach means potential and emerging zoonoses can be identified sooner and their impacts to human health and national economies significantly lessened. 

A One Health focus can also improve food safety and security, having flow-on benefits for protecting biodiversity and the world’s economy. 

Our actions

The interim Australian CDC is expanding Australia’s ability to implement a One Health approach. The interim Australian CDC is focused on: 

  • Collaboration - By improving cross-sectoral collaboration, to address a range of complex health issues. This will include things like zoonoses control and antimicrobial resistance. 
  • New learning - By building on lessons from the experiences of recent outbreak responses in Australia including Japanese Encephalitis Virus and Mpox. 
  • Industry knowledge - By working with other organisations to better identify emerging threats and deliver faster and more effective responses. 

We will establish a One Health Unit (OHU) to improve One Health policy coordination and collaboration at the national level, then bring together expertise in human, animal and ecological health areas. 

Actions will include:

  • identifying steps to improve One Health capabilities and activities, including enhanced surveillance and greater availability and sharing of data;
  • supporting horizon scanning for new and emerging human health threats; and  
  • establishing and maintaining clear, practical partnerships with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water and Food Standards Australian New Zealand. 

Key stakeholders

Key One Health partners for the interim Australian CDC include other Commonwealth agencies, state and territory governments, First Nations organisations, peak bodies and the research sector. 

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