Ecohealth and One Health

From the beginning, VWB/VSF has been careful to keep an eye on The Big Picture in designing and implementing projects around the world. VWB/VSF's approach is best defined by the related concepts of Ecohealth and One Health, which suggest that people and animals can only be healthy if the environment they live in is healthy. That means that the air and water need to be clean, that the soil is healthy enough to support the plants that, in turn, support human and animal life, and that animals, both wild and domestic, are healthy, are available as a source of food, and are not transmitting diseases to humans. In practical terms, VWB/VSF projects address all three elements -- human health, animal health, and environmental health -- in balance.

What sets this approach apart from earlier ecological thinking is that it puts humans squarely in the middle of the frame. It is based on natural sciences, but it also takes human behaviour into account, and ensures that people and communities are involved in the decisions that affect their health and environment. The animals that are the focus of VWB/VSF's work bring value to humans as a source of food, income, traction, and companionship, but they are both affected by, and affect the environment in which they exist. They are part of a delicate balance that includes soil, water, topography, population density, markets, culture, and tradition.