SUSTAIN: Scientific UnderStanding of the policy process for Transboundary integration And INstitutionalisation of the One Health across EU member States
The PhD project lies in the field of social sciences and public health and aims to understand the political drivers and constrains for increased transboundary integration and institutionalisation of the One Health approach across EU member states.
To encompass transboundary health issues, a holistic approach, such as One Health provides a way forward. One Health joins the three interdependent sectors – animal health, human health, and environments/ecosystems – with the goal to address issues such as the spread of zoonotic diseases in its entirety. Human health does not merely result from biological or behavioural determinants. The environment also influences health through various impacts. Animal health can have direct and indirect influences on human health through zoonotic diseases, which are diseases transmitted from animals to humans.
Challenges for implementing the One Health approach are complex political and institutional structures. Complex political structures emerge through various levels on which politics can be discussed, such as local, regional, national and international levels. Additionally, problem definition as well as agenda setting opportunities, which entail policy change, are dependent on many factors and actors. Complex institutional structures are reflected by the various institutions working together on the purpose of One Health. Within and across these institutions, information infrastructure, collaboration and relationships can pose obstacles for implementing One Health. Hitherto, health and environmental programmes of governments and institutions are often seen as separate entities that do not influence one another. The reasons are manifold and include that researchers are experiencing difficulties in interdisciplinary work or that a lack of funding impedes interdisciplinary collaboration. This complicates and even inhibits the possibility of working multidisciplinary on a combined goal. More specifically, this can result in limited knowledge exchange within interdependent topics as well as in limited data and information sharing within interdependent sectors. Understanding barriers and facilitators to change policy processes, and how these differ across sectors and across EU member states is important information for the future of One Health in the EU.
The first step is a literature search to inform subsequent studies. Hereafter, quantitative studies of databases and of a survey addressed to institutions working on One Health topics will follow. Lastly, a qualitative study will be conducted, which will include interviews and observations. The studies will inform different aspects, such as the current state of One Health institutionalisation on EU as well as on national level, and the One Health networks’ interactions as well as relationships.
About me: Studying a BSc. Biology in Germany, I grew a passion for the complexity of ecosystems and the human body. Within my bachelor thesis, I focused on the immune system. To put the human health into a bigger context, I started studying MSc. in Public Health in Denmark. The studies provided a comprehensive view on the impacts the environment can have on health. Within my specialisation in global health, I focussed on health policies within the European Union and practical approaches such as health and environmental impact assessments. I have always had a passion for the environment and health, which is why I enjoy hiking and jogging in the nature.
What motivated me to do a PhD: One Health puts human health, animal health and the ecosystem into a multi-dimensional perspective. For me, One Health combines topics that I strive for and pursuing the PhD project will enable me to examine social and political interactions in the context of One Health on a European level. I relish the opportunity to be a part of a project that aims protect and promote human health, animal health and the health of the ecosystem with a collaborative effort. I am motivated to produce outcomes that will strengthen One Health collaboration on European level and additionally enhance my understanding of social factors within the One Health context.