It has become evident that we cannot assure the health and wellbeing of people, animals and our shared environment in the long run, unless we treat them as a whole. Interdisciplinary cooperation across different sectors is required, because a single research discipline or organization cannot tackle the challenges facing the world, such as exponential population growth, climate change and increasing use of natural resources for food.
This is the basic idea behind the One Health approach where insights into the relationship between human and animal diseases and the environment are used to prevent and combat infectious diseases and diseases caused by chemical contaminants. For years the National Food Institute has conducted research into, given scientific advice on and taught how to apply this approach.
Denmark is heavily involved
The EU Commission recently recognized the National Food Institute’s One Health expertise through the allocation of research funding to eight new projects that aim to solve or lead to more knowledge about different One Health issues.
The funds come from a special European Joint Program (EJP – Zoonoses One Health), which will allocate a total of 90 million euros to One Health projects in 19 EU countries over a five-year period. One of the main objectives is to create a research environment in Europe where experts from different disciplines work together and draw on each other’s competencies.
Initially 13 projects will start up and the National Food Institute is involved in eight of those projects. As such, the institute is one of the research institutions in Europe, which is most involved in the large-scale research programme. The institute is also the Danish participant, which has had the most projects approved.
In the eight projects, which the National Food Institute has had approved so far, the researchers will look for cheaper ways to screen for campylobacter in the poultry production, calculate the disease burden for antimicrobial resistance, and map the sources of the Klebsiella pneumonia bacteria and identify ways to prevent infection.
Applicants and EJP each contribute half of the project funds needed for the approved projects.
Danish tradition of applying the One Health concept
Denmark has a long tradition of applying the One Health concept and is among the leading countries in finding solutions to some of these interdisciplinary challenges. Examples are the prevention and control of salmonella and antimicrobial resistant bacteria in livestock production.