One health, one welfare

Veterinary teams have a wide role within society that impacts not just animals, but also humans and the environment

08 January 2018, at 3:12pm

Members of the profession work at many different levels, in small animal, equine or farm animal practice; animal welfare charities; farm animal inspection services; working animal care; food safety and hygiene inspection services; animal disease surveillance systems; animal nutrition; research and development of pharmaceutical drugs; scientific research; government policy and delivery and global policy-making; sport, recreational and conservation work involving animals, among others. All these roles have one common theme – they all help support animals and humans (individuals, local communities and global development). Through the concepts of ‘One Health’ and ‘One Welfare’, we can increase the efficiency of how this is done and better understand the role and impact of the veterinary profession, working alongside others, in a multi-disciplinary fashion.

‘One World, One Health’ was developed as a concept to achieve fully-comprehensive approaches in support of global sustainable development. The Manhattan principles were agreed following an event in 2004 to help establish a more holistic approach to preventing epidemic/epizootic disease and for maintaining ecosystem integrity for the bene t of humans, their domesticated animals, and the foundational biodiversity that supports us all.

More recently, the concept of ‘One Welfare’ has emerged, emphasising the connections between animal welfare, human well-being, conservation and the environment. Integrating ‘One Welfare’ with ‘One World, One Health’ helps strengthen and better integrate stakeholder liaison by capturing all relevant issues involving animals and our society in a holistic way.

Recognising the interconnections

It is important to recognise the interconnections between animal welfare and other disciplines in support of global sustainable development. The role of veterinary teams in society by using a ‘One Health, One Welfare’ approach is consistent with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in animal-related areas by helping to “build economic growth and address a range of social needs including education, health, social protection, and job opportunities, while tackling climate change and environmental protection” (United Nations, 2016).

By expanding One Health into One Welfare, veterinary professionals can make more explicit the recognition between the interconnections of animal welfare, human well-being and the environment.

This represents a step forward in the implementation of animal welfare standards and policies, with the aim of integrating animal welfare with other relevant areas for the benefit of all.

The One Welfare Framework has been developing over the past two years and will be published in the first quarter of 2018. The Framework includes five key sections, which include, for example the interconnections between animal abuse, human abuse and neglect; socio-economical aspects that link with animal welfare; the connection between farm animal welfare and farmer well-being; conservation and sustainability or the interconnection of animal and human welfare at the time of war or disasters.

The role of working animals supporting developing communities, and how improvements in their welfare supports local economies, individuals and families, is one example highlighting the indirect impacts of veterinary professionals in different societies.

Overall, the role and impact of the veterinary profession at local, national and global level should not be underestimated. We should all take part in reminding everyone of both the direct and indirect impact that those working in veterinary teams have in the wider society. 

For more information, visit