One Health Day, defending the environment to defend health

One Health Day, defending the environment to defend health

What do air, water and land pollution, antibiotic resistance, climate change and zoonoses have in common? They are all (but more precisely only some) of the consequences of the action of human beings on the environment and which come back to humans as lost health. Because pollution, antimicrobial resistance, zoonoses and climate change kill. Recognizing this, today more than ever, serves to measure the impacts of all this, to implement policies capable of counteracting its effects and direct actions to safeguard the health of the planet, which is our health. Roberto Danovaro, Professor of Ecology, Polytechnic University of Marche and President of the WWF Scientific Committee, recalled all this on the occasion of One Health Day, which is celebrated today 3 November, across the planet, in his lectio magistralis which opened the conference proceedings “One Health Day. From the Laboratory to the Environment: A One Health Approach for Disease Prevention”in Montecitorio, promoted by One Health Foundation.

“We are late”: the impact of the environment on health

“We have modified 75% of the emerged lands, 90% of the Earth will be altered by 2050, and around a million species are at risk of extinction, we already face problems of water scarcity today, but we don’t know when the divide will break rope,” explained Danovaro. What is certain, continued the expert, is that we are already late, and the pandemic has done nothing but remind us, as avian flu for example had already done in the past, that it is impossible to separate the health of the planet from that of animals and humans. “It is scientifically proven that the majority of cases of cardiovascular, oncological and respiratory diseases are in some way influenced by environmental factors – added Rossana Berardi, President of One Health Foundation and Professor of Medical Oncology at the Polytechnic University of Marche – More than 1 4 million cancer-related deaths per year worldwide are attributable to modifiable environmental risk factors.”

The One Healthon campaign

To raise awareness among citizens, institutions, doctors and the media of the need to promote the well-being of the planet, in recent months One Health Foundation launched “One Healthon”, the first campaign ever created in Italy on the topic. “Through adequate environmental policies, deaths, the incidence of some diseases and many other public health problems can be reduced. With our initiatives we also wanted to urge local and national institutions to intervene as soon as possible in this direction – explained Giuseppe Quintavalle, general director of the Tor Vergata-Rome Polyclinic – The campaign involves practical, training and information actions for the population, and operational actions through which we are touring Italy and through which we have already carried out over four thousand visits. We do this by taking into account the problems of food, nutrition, physical activity and the climate that has changed, in a proactive manner, that is, encouraging us to act first to avoid repercussions on the body later.”

Environmental protection must not overshadow prevention

The experts gathered in Rome echoed the invitation not only to defend the environment to defend one’s health, but the appeal to invest in primary and secondary prevention through one’s lifestyles was also renewed. The impact of the environment on health “must not represent an alibi for anyone and encourage equally dangerous behaviors such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and a sedentary lifestyle – continued Berardi – It has been demonstrated, in fact, that with healthy lifestyles we can avoid up to 40% of new cancer diagnoses. Primary prevention is also fundamental in cardiovascular diseases, which in Italy represent the main cause of death and cause more than 40% of all deaths. We are thinking of activating virtual clinics to educate citizens of all ages about this new holistic approach to health.”

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