Operationalising the “One Health” approach in India: facilitators of and barriers to effective cross-sector convergence for zoonoses prevention and control

Aug 06, 2021 | Asaaga

BACKGROUND: There is a strong policy impetus for the One Health cross-sectoral approach to address the complex challenge of zoonotic diseases, particularly in low/lower middle income countries (LMICs). Yet the implementation of this approach in LMIC contexts such as India has proven challenging, due partly to the relatively limited practical guidance and understanding on how to foster and sustain cross-sector collaborations. This study addresses this gap by exploring the facilitators of and barriers to successful convergence between the human, animal and environmental health sectors in India.

METHODS: A mixed methods study was conducted using a detailed content review of national policy documents and in-depth semi-structured interview data on zoonotic disease management in India. In total, 29 policy documents were reviewed and 15 key informant interviews were undertaken with national and state level policymakers, disease managers and experts operating within the human-animal-environment interface of zoonotic disease control.

RESULTS: Our findings suggest that there is limited policy visibility of zoonotic diseases, although global zoonoses, especially those identified to be of pandemic potential by international organisations (e.g. CDC, WHO and OIE) rather than local, high burden endemic diseases, have high recognition in the existing policy agenda setting. Despite the widespread acknowledgement of the importance of cross-sectoral collaboration, a myriad of factors operated to either constrain or facilitate the success of cross-sectoral convergence at different stages (i.e. information-sharing, undertaking common activities and merging resources and infrastructure) of cross-sectoral action. Importantly, participants identified the lack of supportive policies, conflicting departmental priorities and limited institutional capacities as major barriers that hamper effective cross-sectoral collaboration on zoonotic disease control. Building on existing informal inter-personal relationships and collaboration platforms were suggested by participants as the way forward.

CONCLUSION: Our findings point to the importance of strengthening existing national policy frameworks as a first step for leveraging cross-sectoral capacity for improved disease surveillance and interventions. This requires the contextual adaptation of the One Health approach in a manner that is sensitive to the underlying socio-political, institutional and cultural context that determines and shapes outcomes of cross-sector collaborative arrangements.

PubMed Abstract

Asaaga, F. A., Young, J. C., Oommen, M. A., Chandarana, R., August, J., Joshi, J., . . . Purse, B. V. (2021). Operationalising the "One Health" approach in India: facilitators of and barriers to effective cross-sector convergence for zoonoses prevention and control. BMC Public Health, 21(1), 1517. doi:10.1186/s12889-021-11545-7