The United Nations and One Health: the International Health Regulations (2005) and global health security

Rev Sci Tech. 2014 Aug;33(2):659-68. doi: 10.20506/rst.33.2.2303.


The One Health approach encompasses multiple themes and can be understood from many different perspectives. This paper expresses the viewpoint of those in charge of responding to public health events of international concern and, in particular, to outbreaks of zoonotic disease. Several international organisations are involved in responding to such outbreaks, including the United Nations (UN) and its technical agencies; principally, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO); UN funds and programmes, such as the United Nations Development Programme, the World Food Programme, the United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations Children's Fund; the UN-linked multilateral banking system (the World Bank and regional development banks); and partner organisations, such as the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). All of these organisations have benefited from the experiences gained during zoonotic disease outbreaks over the last decade, developing common approaches and mechanisms to foster good governance, promote policies that cut across different sectors, target investment more effectively and strengthen global and national capacities for dealing with emerging crises. Coordination among the various UN agencies and creating partnerships with related organisations have helped to improve disease surveillance in all countries, enabling more efficient detection of disease outbreaks and a faster response, greater transparency and stakeholder engagement and improved public health. The need to build more robust national public human and animal health systems, which are based on good governance and comply with the International Health Regulations (2005) and the international standards set by the OIE, prompted FAO, WHO and the OIE to join forces with the World Bank, to provide practical tools to help countries manage their zoonotic disease risks and develop adequate resources to prevent and control disease outbreaks, particularly at the animal source. All these efforts contribute to the One Health agenda.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Outbreaks / prevention & control
  • Global Health / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Global Health / standards
  • Humans
  • Internationality*
  • Public Health / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Public Health / standards
  • Public Health Administration / standards
  • United Nations / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • United Nations / standards
  • Zoonoses / prevention & control