Human health is inextricably linked to environmental health, says German Development Minister

In an op-ed in the German newspaper, Focus, on December 22, 2020, German Development Minister Gerd Müller has called for a 'One Health' approach as a guiding principle for global health to prevent future pandemics. The One Health approach recognizes that human health is strongly connected to the health of animals and the environment.

According to Müller, the increased and accelerated human encroachment into wild habitats has increased the risk of transmission of novel infectious viruses from animals to human beings. Three-quarters of all newly emerging infectious diseases in humans originate in animals—including COVID-19, Ebola, bilharzia, and the bird flu, Müller said. 

To protect ourselves from these infectious diseases, it will be pivotal to not only strengthen health systems but also to protect our planet, he said. According to Müller, therefore, the One Health approach must become the guiding principle for global health prevention.

To this end, Müller has called for:  

  • Transforming the World Health Organization into a world pandemic center, with a better early warning system for virus outbreaks and means to combat them;
  • Integrating the One Health approach in the EU’s multiannual financial framework for 2021-2027; and
  • Seizing the chance for a breakthrough in species protection at the World Biodiversity Summit in summer 2021.

News article – Focus (in German)