Cookie tracking notice
Are we allowed to crumble with cookies and anonymous tracking?

We use cookies on our website. Some of them are essential for the operation of the site (so called session cookies), while others help us to improve this site and the user experience (tracking cookies). We use the application Matomo and the external service etracker to analyze your behavior on our website anonymously. Because we value your privacy, we are here with asking your permission to use the following technologies. You can change your settings any time via this link or the menu item in footer menu. For more information visit our Data Policy

One Health is an integrated, unifying approach that aims to sustainably balance and optimize the health of people, non-human animals and ecosystems. It recognizes that the health of humans, domestic and wild animals, plants, and the wider environment (including ecosystems) are closely linked and inter-dependent. 

Article written by

Alice Brandt Advisor

Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH, Germany

Previously worked in WASH, then One Health in Guatemala, Mexico and Belize. Since 2024 new member of the Secretariat to the International Alliance against Health Risks in Wildlife Trade.

Mascha Kaddori Junior Advisor

Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH, Germany

Experience in human intensive care as a nurse, veterinarian specialising in One Health and Animal Welfare. Since 2023 Junior Advisor of the Secretariat to the International Alliance against Health Risks in Wildlife Trade.

Share this article on

Reading Time: 9 min.

The approach is essential for preventing future pandemics and remains highly relevant internationally for preventing the emergence of novel infectious diseases and beyond, even after the WHO's announcement that Covid-19 ceased to be an international health emergency.  An important aspect of the primary prevention of pandemics is to reduce the risks to human, animal and environmental health that arise from the (legal and illegal) trade and consumption of wild animals and wildlife products. 

In September 2021 the International Alliance against Health Risks and Wildlife Trade was launched as an inclusive and interdisciplinary platform at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille. It aims to substantially reduce the risks of zoonotic spillover and step up responses (including behavioral changes) to human and animal health risks caused by direct and indirect contact with wildlife and their products along the wildlife trade chain, and to enhance international and national awareness, knowledge and policies, thus narrowing the gap between science and implementation.  Like in the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA), the Alliance against Health Risks in Wildlife Trade is organized into interdisciplinary working groups and connects practitioners, policy makers and marginalized key actors from all over the world. 

Although the WASH practitioners have begun to sporadically integrate One Health perspectives into research, policy and implementation, health risks in wildlife trade and consumption has been up until now a blind spot in this sector. However, safe WASH practices at the human-wildlife interface, such as hand hygiene in bushmeat handling, are an important component of zoonotic disease prevention. 

This article aims to give WASH practitioners confidence that investing in  the human-wildlife interface in WASH interventions is worthwhile. It should attract attention from WASH professionals to the health risks of human contact with the contact chain of wildlife products from a WASH perspective. 

How One Health is linked to WASH 

The WASH sector aims to achieve safely managed sanitation and hygiene for all, which are essential to public health. Access to safe sanitation and hygiene is an effective pathway to reduce the spread of infectious diseases, for instance through the provision of handwashing facilities and the safe disposal of feces. 

In its first One Health strategy paper in 2021, the German Federal Ministry for International Cooperation and Development (BMZ) mentions safe sanitation and hygiene as elementary framework conditions for the One Health approach to be implemented.

The WASH sector has begun to employ One Health principles with regards to climate and weather on environmental fecal contamination as well as animal feces management. However, there is room for greater application of a One Health approach on relevant public health problems. Most WASH interventions and policies don’t consider a holistic perspective to health, focusing mainly on human health whilst omitting the interlinkage with the environment, its flora and fauna.

Health as a concept and goal set in the Sustainable Development Goals of the Agenda 2030 (SDG 3) needs to be understood as the interconnectedness between animal welfare (wild and domestic), human wellbeing and ecosystem intactness. Washing hands with clean water and soap are not enough if infectious diseases keep being transmitted between animals and humans. Epidemics and pandemics need to be prevented from occurring in the first place, and that can only happen if relevant sectors such as the WASH sector take up the One Health approach. 

In the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, some research and project efforts have been undertaken to apply the One Health approach to WASH measures. It is worthwhile to highlight research on WASH and on-farm biosecurity as  prevention and control measures: One Health WASH: an AMR-smart integrative approach to preventing and controlling infection in farming communities - PMC (; knowledge products such as the One Health and WASH webinar series by the Stockholm Environment Institute and its partners: OneHealth - WaSH network | SEI; or the on the ground application of One Health through WASH in primary health care facilities: Sanitation for Millions Approach to One Health in Health Care Facilities | PANORAMA. 

However, health risks from wildlife trade and consumption have not made it onto the WASH agenda. And the exchange and collaboration between WASH and One Health practitioners remain a rare phenomenon. 

The International Alliance against Health Risks in Wildlife Trade supports organisations and governments with primary pandemic prevention at the human-wildlife interface. The Alliance is funding 18 projects in 8 countries, some of which integrate water, sanitation and hygiene aspects when tackling health risks in wildlife trade and consumption. 

How is wildlife connected to sanitation and hygiene? 

As already indicated, WASH is essential also when it comes to wild animals, their trade and consumption. One of the projects of the International Alliance against Health Risks in Wildlife Trade is a suitable example of how WASH can even be part of primary pandemic prevention.

Together with many partners, such as the wildlife management authority of Tanzania, TRAFFIC (Trade Records Analysis of Flora and Fauna in Commerce) works on ‘Reducing Risks in Tanzania’s Game Meat Industry: Developing a One Health Model for Safe, Sustainable and Legal Supply’. 

In 2020 Tanzania’s Game Meat Selling Regulations were fast-tracked into law which presented both threats and opportunities to manage a legal supply of wild animal meat for the domestic market. Poaching and especially the illegal bushmeat trade can lead to serious health issues for consumers, as it is not properly regulated and therefore results in a lack of control over the existing health risks. For instance, the transmission of parasites, viruses or bacteria, which can result from handling both live and dead animals. 

Diseases and pathogens can therefore quickly spread, as we have seen with COVID-19, caused by the SARS-Cov2 virus, which is believed to have originated from wildlife trade as well. 

The guarantee of safer bushmeat is one of the advantages that may come along with legal, and therefore, regulated game meat production. This is due to the fact that licensed and registered places for slaughtering and processing wild animals and selling game meat are regularly inspected as required by the law. 

Sanitary and safety requirements not only include the identification of HACCP (Hazard analysis and critical control points) for example to identify critical control points along the food chain, determine regular checks depending on the level of risk and list appropriate measures. These requirements also include pathogen surveillance, avoidance of high-risk taxa, sick animals, or undercooked food, the use of personal protective equipment such as rubber gloves, washing hands and utensils, and the treatment of injuries sustained during animal handling. 

Besides having regulations, there is also the need for campaigns to increase the low public awareness of the potential health risks of not complying with the sanitary requirements such as washing hands. Tackling a problem from several sides and at different levels can contribute significantly to faster and more sustainable change.

Another project that also incorporates WASH issues into its work is that of CIFOR (Center for International Forestry Research). CIFOR works together with partners on ‘Mitigating risks of disease transmission in the wild meat food chain from forest to fork in Cameroon’. The main objective is to understand the behaviors that may expose actors to different risks along the wild meat food chain. 

Of particular interest in this project is the acknowledgement of women’s role in hunting and their key roles in wild meat handling in butchering and cooking practices, which are often overlooked. 

Unhygienic behaviors are particularly relevant in this context and include contact with contaminated environments, such as contaminated surfaces, clothes, or utensils that have been used to process wild meat. 

At the same time direct contact with body fluids, biting or injuries when handling wild animals or wild animal carcasses pose a high health risk. 

Taking appropriate measurements is crucial to reduce these risks and ensure that people work in a healthy and safe environment as well as consume healthy and safe animal food products. Women have a special role to play in this context, as they are primarily responsible for processing and selling game meat/bushmeat at wet markets, depending on the cultural context, and also have a strong influence on the younger generation in the household through their own hygiene behavior due to their care work. Therefore, women can have a positive impact on society in their position as amplifiers.

Global, multidisciplinary alliances such as SuSanA and the International Alliance against Health Risks in Wildlife Trade are key to bridging science-policy-society gaps in often overlooked issues of public health. Facilitating exchange across borders to catalyze action beyond sector silos can save lives, human and non-human.  

Find more information on our website: International Alliance against Health Risks in Wildlife Trade (


Share this page on

Share your experience in an own blog article

Do you have valuable insights or a unique perspective on WASH? We welcome article submissions from experts, researchers, practitioners, and anyone passionate about the field.

Make an impact and reach our global audience by contributing your article. Whether it's an innovative project, best practices, or personal stories, we value diverse perspectives. Join us in advancing the conversation and driving positive change in sustainable sanitation.

To submit your article or learn more about the process, contact us at