India launches One Health Initiative with help from Penn State's ABRL

March 28, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s Applied Biological and Biosecurity Research Laboratory (ABRL), together with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the United States Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Biological Threat Reduction Program, recently worked with India’s Department of Biotechnology within the Ministry of Science and Technology to help the Indian government launch its complex and ambitious One Health Initiative at the One Health India Conference 2019, a two-day gathering held Feb. 18-19 in New Delhi.

India’s One Health Initiative is an intersectoral approach to tackling the most urgent health threats in the region, with a focus on low and middle-income countries across south and southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Over the course of the past year, ABRL, in close partnership with the Indian Department of Biotechnology and the Institute for Animal Health and Veterinary Biologicals, coordinated and facilitated scientific intersectoral planning workshops involving senior representatives and thought leaders from key Indian government ministries, as well as state agencies and diverse stakeholders to lay the foundation for the launch of this important initiative. 

Harsh Vardhan, minister of science and technology of India, inaugurated the conference. Vardhan specifically emphasized the need for a “collaborative, multisectoral and trans-disciplinary approach for designing and implementing programs, policies and legislation supported by basic and applied research.” The One Health approach addresses both human and animal health concerns in an integrated manner that includes environmental factors. Vardhan stressed that such an approach is urgently needed to protect global health and secure livelihoods.

Conference participants included experts and leaders in the fields of brucellosis, anthrax, tuberculosis, and antimicrobial resistance, as well as biosafety and security, burden of disease, and intersectoral collaboration. This interdisciplinary gathering fostered lively discussion about potential solutions for risk mitigation and control. The conference concluded with an Inter-Ministerial Declaration that formulates a framework for India on how to plan future response, preparedness, and management of current regional, national and global health challenges using a One Health collaborative approach.

With more than 250 participants and field experts from 21 countries, the event also initiated international collaborations and provided a platform for researchers, medical and veterinary practitioners, public and private sector stakeholders, and policymakers to integrate knowledge and identify needs and opportunities to better coordinate activities and address major human, animal, and environmental health challenges.

In addition, the conference held three competitively judged poster sessions with 76 entries, representing outstanding research in each category. Robab Katani of Penn State’s Applied Biological and Biosecurity Research Laboratory won first prize for her poster on bushmeat surveillance competition.

Hosts included the Institute of Animal Health and Veterinary Biologicals in India and India’s Department of Biotechnology within the Ministry of Science and Technology, in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, Research and Education and the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries within India’s Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare; and the Department of Health Research and the Departments of Health and Family Welfare within India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Penn State’s ABRL is committed to long-term involvement in this innovative global health initiative as it continues to evolve.

  • DTRA and Penn State participants with the Senior Advisor from the Dept. of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology, at the One Health India Conference 2019.

    Representatives from the United States Defense Threat Reduction Agency and Penn State’s Applied Biological and Biosecurity Research Laboratory pose with S.R. Rao, senior adviser from the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, at the One Health India Conference 2019.

    IMAGE: Image provided
Last Updated March 28, 2019