A health perspective on the role of the environment in One Health


One Health is a cross-disciplinary approach to improve human health at the human-animal-environment interface. The role of the environment in this triad is often overlooked, however.

This report explores and clarifies this role from a health perspective. In animal-mediated diseases, the environment plays a threefold role, acting

  • as a reservoir where substances are accumulated and transported;
  • as a focal point for ecological and chemical processes; and
  • as a health mediator where disease agents from the environment are transferred to and affect animals and humans.

The environment thus plays a substantial role in human physical and mental well-being. Anthropogenic stressors - including land use change, biodiversity loss, climate change and pollution - further affect the role played by the environment in the human-animal health interface.

While One Health has traditionally focused on communicable diseases, this report suggests that the human-animal-environment interconnections provide insights into certain noncommunicable diseases, such as those caused by the human consumption of animals and animal products contaminated by chemicals, and injuries.