Th Institute for Global Health and Health Policy (IGHHP) was incorporated as a U.S. 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 2013 and is grounded in the concept of One Health, exploring connections between human, animal and ecosystem wellness. One Health embodies three fundamental concepts: 1) working upstream in the disease cascade to define root causes and empower early points of therapeutic intervention; 2) engaging multiple disciplines of expertise to harvest and orchestrate collective knowledge to address “wicked problems” (that is, those presenting not only technical, but also socioeconomic challenges where multiple stakeholders may differ in their objectives) and 3) employing complex systems thinking and resilience to unpredictable, emergent properties, in order to uncouple problem solving from the more linear and limiting reductionist approach.
One Health is framed around two foundational principles, one conceptual and the other operational. The three conceptual tenets, outlined above, are universally relevant and can be applied globally. In fact, such scaling up must occur if One Health is to achieve the paradigm shift it promises (and is needed) worldwide. In contrast, the operational applications of One Health must be tailored to fit local community needs and ecologies if they are to succeed over both the short and long terms without externalizing social harms within and beyond the community. In this sense, appropriate operational specifics must emerge from the “grassroots” with active community investment and leadership. The “One Health Table” should include all stakeholders, but the regional community impacted by resource and wellness decisions must not be sacrificed for the private gain of distant actors and stakeholders if actionable One Health is to succeed.
A centrally-orchestrated, one size fits all approach is contradictory to One Health practice, inevitably injecting frailty into an unwieldy system that can eventually collapse unless propped up by artificial economic policies, subsidies and bailouts by third parties. Because One Health is practiced within a tapestry of regionally-adapted community enterprises, the failure of one operation (such as a small farm) does not seriously jeopardize the entire network, thereby insuring greater resiliency for the whole during shock events. This does not mean that local communities cannot avail themselves of societal advances, such as adaptive technologies that could not be developed locally. Rather, it means that adoption of advances is best tailored to the context of local community needs, economies and ecologies.