By Héctor Castañón

The house, that place that contains us, that we inhabit, where we can take refuge, is the world in which we live. The house, that place where the pandemic has locked us up, some for longer than others, For how long is he really able to protect us and how effectively does he isolate us?

In the same way that we can hold our breath for just a few seconds, this is how we can try to isolate ourselves from the world: just a few days. For some people, a few hours. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we consume, the living things we live with and the economy that sustains us are all the time there, crossing our walls.

Image: Megan Rexazin | Pixabay

From a systems perspective, there is no such thing as public and private; only different intensities in the flows and functions that constitute a single global system.

If the main concern today is health, the proposal is to think of it that way. This is what researchers associated with the World Health Organization, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and different universities around the world, who developed the concept of One Health, propose. This perspective invites us to understand that our health and the health of the planet are not separate things. The health of rivers, of the entire hydrological cycle, of forests, ecosystems, soil, oceans and air, is a continuum and interdependent part of human health.

If we understand health, not as the absence of disease, but as the ability to heal, the priority would be to restore balance; the balance on which that capacity depends.

Thus, the Una Salud initiative calls for collaboration between health care practitioners, entomology, sociology, veterinary, nutrition, ecology, engineering, climate science and public health specialists, among many others, to understand and seek that balance between social, economic, ecological, cultural and political dynamics.

Climate change would be, for example, one of its main fields of work. His research highlights that in the transmission dynamics of viruses such as Zika and Dengue, as heat increases, their transmission capacity increases. But it is not only the heat; the more flood events occur, the more the outbreaks of gastrointestinal diseases increase.

This is what they have called climate sensitive diseases and acknowledge that there is still a large information gap on how climate change, and the economic, social and political forces driving it, influence the incidence of infectious diseases.

Image: Mystic Art Design | Pixabay

On the other hand, zoonotic infections; Those that can jump from animals to humans are another great cause for concern in this context. For more than a decade, the link between the destruction of natural ecosystems and the appearance of new diseases in humans has been explored..

Today there is sufficient evidence to affirm that deforestation can lead to the spread of viruses in humans. Cities, settlements and cultivation and livestock areas increasingly come into contact with animals that were previously contained in natural habitats.

Although it is not yet known exactly how the virus that causes COVID-19 got to humans, it is very likely that it was caused by bats displaced from their natural habitat somewhere in China.. Bats are coronavirus stores, thanks to their strong immune system. It is estimated that more than 3,000 different types of coronaviruses are housed in bats, for example.

Climate-sensitive diseases affect not only humans, but also the plants and animals that we live with … and that we consume.

This explains the increase in the use of antibiotics, pesticides, toxic and carcinogenic agents that contaminate our food and affect global health.

There will not be sufficient spending on medical service systems to contain the impact of these massive processes of affectations to natural systems, which condition global health. Thus, health and environment strategies cannot be decoupled. Furthermore, there can be no development strategies that ignore these complex relationships.

Today it is not possible to conceive of sustainable development without regenerative development. There can be no more a gray agenda and another green agenda; a mitigation and adaptation agenda. We must have a single impact reduction and regeneration agenda.

Photo: Millennium

The concept of One Health is not abstract; can be carried into public policy. The New Jersey legislature is promoting this initiative, which would be the first of its kind derived from the NJ One Health Task Force. For its part, the United States Center for Disease Control has proposed this approach for the development of public policies to preserve human health and that of all the species and communities in the world in which we live.

Back home, now we understand that the global moves in the domestic; In the other sense, we must reflect on the economic, social, environmental, cultural and political decisions that we make from our space that, in short, move the world. This new, more just, solidary and sustainable reality that we want to see after the pandemic begins at home; it is claimed in the public arena and practiced in the world we inhabit.


Héctor Castañón He is a doctor in social anthropology, and a teacher in development planning and management. Participate in various academic and civil society spaces to promote equal opportunities, political participation and care for the environment. Member of the Pedagogy of the Future team. Busy father solving musical frustrations with his children.

Twitter: @hektanon


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