Protecting Human Health Through a One Health Approach


COVID-19 is the sixth zoonotic pandemic since 1980. The frequency and severity of these events is increasing as people encroach on wildlife habitats, and livestock and fish production systems intensify. Animal production systems are reservoirs of zoonotic pathogens, which are responsible for 60% of human communicable disease cases. Two thirds of global antimicrobial use, the key driver of antimicrobial resistance, is in livestock production. Antimicrobial resistance causes 700,000 deaths annually and is projected to kill 10 million people every year by 2050. Trade of animals and animal-source foods at increasing scales multiplies the magnitude of health and economic risks. Livestock generate 85% of global animal fecal waste, leading to environmental degradation and human exposure to waterborne pathogens. Foodborne disease takes a toll comparable to that of tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS, but receives a small fraction of the investment from international donors.

Solving these challenges requires both overcoming institutional barriers to cross-sectoral collaboration and stronger evidence on the importance and cost-effectiveness of incorporating One Health principles into management of food systems.


This Initiative aims to demonstrate how One Health principles and tools integrated into food systems can help reduce and contain zoonotic disease outbreaks, improve food and water safety, and reduce anti-microbial resistance, benefitting human, animal, and environmental health.


This objective will be achieved through:

  • Preempting the emergence and spread of zoonoses with epidemic and pandemic potential at the interface of wildlife, livestock, and people, including in bushmeat value chains.
  • Reducing the burden of foodborne disease with a focus on animal-source and other perishable foods, including in informal and traditional food systems.
  • Reducing the selection and spread of anti-microbial resistance from livestock, fish and crop production systems.
  • Improving waste and water management, with a focus on pollution from livestock and aquaculture, including zoonotic pathogens, antimicrobial residues and antimicrobial resistant bacteria and resistance genes.
  • Testing the effects of capacity building, incentives, and monitoring on behavior of value chain actors and government personnel providing support or oversight for relevant sectors. Assessing the cost-effectiveness of innovations and the private and public cases for investment.


This Initiative will work in the following countries: Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Uganda and Vietnam.


Proposed 3-year outcomes include:

  1. Budgetary contingency plans and decision support tools for emerging infectious diseases adopted by 1–2 countries.
  2. Strategies integrating public health and veterinary services for prevention and control of neglected zoonotic diseases serve at least 100,000 livestock dependent individuals.
  3. Government and private sector support voluntary upgrading of informal food business operators serving 174,000 consumers through an “enabling, capacitating, and motivating” approach toward their integration into regulatory structures for food safety in at least three countries.
  4. At least two countries incorporate tools and targets to reduce anti-microbial use and anti-microbial resistance based on CGIAR evidence in their anti-microbial resistance action plans.
  5. Role of the water in the transmission of pathogens and anti-microbial resistance, and proposed solutions for waste and water management, are recognized in national One Health planning processes of at least two countries.
  6. One Health policy planning processes in at least three countries take into account gendered constraints and incentives of small- and medium- scale food system actors, tradeoffs across policy goals, and the magnitude and distribution of impacts.


Projected impacts and benefits include:


More than 11.3 million lives saved and many more lives extended via food safety measures and prevention of zoonoses and other communicable and noncommunicable diseases.

Reducing the prevalence of foodborne diseases, zoonoses, and infections resistant to antimicrobials directly improves human health. Reducing the diarrheal disease burden improves key nutrition outcomes including stunting and wasting.


More than 24.5 million people are prevented from entering poverty due to the effects of emerging zoonoses or antimicrobial resistance.

Mitigating zoonoses, foodborne disease, and antimicrobial resistance helps reduce poverty, as the poor disproportionately suffer from these issues.


More than 5.8 million women and girls benefit at scale from efforts to improve food safety and prevent zoonoses, while more than 12.2 million women and girls are prevented from entering poverty.

Women and youth are involved in surveillance of zoonoses, and uptake of disease mitigation and food safety measures. Reducing illness reduces the burden on women of caring for the sick.


Improved manure management through composting and use of bio-digestors reduces greenhouse gas emissions, reduces deforestation, and improves plant health and crop yields through higher quality organic fertilizers, contributing to an averted 202,756 tonnes of CO2 emissions. These efforts also reduce environmental contamination by pathogens, antimicrobial residues, and antimicrobial genes.


While environmental health and biodiversity is not a primary Impact Area for this Initiative, work under the Initiative will contribute to some aspects of environmental health, such as water pollution and improved management of wildlife interfaces.


How to Stop Food Systems from Feeding Pandemics: Embrace One Health

For more details, view the Initiative proposal


Header photo: Goats at Poline Achieng's farm. Photo by C. de Bode/CGIAR.