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A Comparison of Three Holistic Approaches to Health: One Health, EcoHealth, and Planetary Health

By Henrik Lerner, Charlotte Berg

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Several holistic and interdisciplinary approaches exist to safeguard health. Three of the most influential concepts at the moment, One Health, EcoHealth, and Planetary Health, are analyzed in this paper, revealing similarities and differences at the theoretical conceptual level. These approaches may appear synonymous, as they all promote the underlying assumption of humans and other animals sharing the same planet and the same environmental challenges, infections and infectious agents as well as other aspects of physical—and possibly mental—health. However, we would like to illuminate the differences between these three concepts or approaches, and how the choice of terms may, deliberately or involuntary, signal the focus, and underlying values of the approaches. In this paper, we have chosen some proposed and well-known suggestions of definitions. In our theoretical analysis, we will focus on at least two areas. These are (1) the value of the potential scientific areas which could be included and (2) core values present within the approach. In the first area, our main concern is whether the approaches are interdisciplinary and whether the core scientific areas are assigned equal importance. For the second area, which is rather wide, we analyze core values such as biodiversity, health, and how one values humans, animals, and ecosystems. One Health has been described as either a narrow approach combining public health and veterinary medicine or as a wide approach as in the wide-spread “umbrella” depiction including both scientific fields, core concepts, and interdisciplinary research areas. In both cases, however, safeguarding the health of vertebrates is usually in focus although ecosystems are also included in the model. The EcoHealth approach seems to have more of a biodiversity focus, with an emphasis on all living creatures, implying that parasites, unicellular organisms, and possibly also viruses have a value and should be protected. Planetary Health, on the other hand, has been put forward as a fruitful approach to deal with growing threats in the health area, not least globally. We conclude that there are actually important differences between these three approaches, which should be kept in mind when using any of these terms.


Mason N McLary

HABRI Central

Date 2017
Publication Title Frontiers in Veterinary Science
Volume 4
Issue 163
Publisher Frontiers
DOI 10.3389/fvets.2017.00163
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal health and hygiene
  2. Animal roles
  3. Animals in culture
  4. Animal welfare
  5. Ecology
  6. Ecosystems
  7. Health
  8. Interdisciplinary work
  9. Medication
  10. One Health
  11. Physical environment
  12. Social Environments
  13. values
  14. Veterinary medicine
  15. Veterinary profession