One Health of Peripheries (OHP or SUP for its Portuguese initials) comprises experiences, understandings, and decolonial transformations of the health of marginalized multispecies collectives. These collectives have a particularity: they are formed by individuals of different species who relate to each other and other elements of the environment, giving rise to complex environments in which political decisions and social relations do not involve only humans and determine health. Other animals are also part of social entanglements that, on the one hand, benefit them while, on the other, explore and use them to structure and legitimize social hierarchies. OHP is also a network of people, projects, and institutions dedicated to promoting One Health of Peripheries.
Although OHP is related to the usual connotation of “One Health” and that of “periphery” in Brazil, that is, favela, OHP is not limited to applying that One Health in favelas.
One Health is a conceptual framework referring to the relationship between human, animal, and environmental health. One Health has become popular due to the need to consider this relationship to address public health problems that are not restricted to humans. Typically, One Health alludes to infectious figures: at least 75% of infectious diseases emerging in humans are of animal origin, 60% of existing human infectious diseases are zoonotic, 80% of agents with bioterrorist potential are zoonotic pathogens, and; Antibiotic abuse in animals and humans leads to antimicrobial resistance, one of the top 10 public health threats in the world. Pandemics, not just Covid-19, are a clear example of such figures. One Health has gained even more prominence with its intersectoral and international consolidation in the tripartite agreement between the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
On the other hand, the word “periphery” has a particular connotation in Brazil, being synonymous with favela and, therefore, loaded with both stereotypes and resignifications that involve resistance, solidarity, and the power of marginalized urban communities.
In OHP, “One Health” and “Peripheries” are polysemic and inseparable expressions, with profound epistemological, ethical, and pragmatic implications introduced in two manuscripts: One Health in Peripheries: biopolitics, social determination and field of praxis and From modern Planetary Health to decolonial promotion of One Health of Peripheries.
By not assuming the capitalist ideology, OHP sees, in addition to economic and political crises, a crisis of civilization to overcome. The objective of OHP is not to seek residual health improvements in alternatives that preserve elitist interests, disguised as the only possible path, in which conveniently manufactured iniquities seem to be a constant of nature. OHP also does not presuppose science as a neutral pursuit of truth. Instead, it understands science as a social institution subject to different interests. OHP uses science together with other knowledge in favor of the good living of peripheral multispecies collectives.
Plural knowledge is essential to face the complexity involved in a crisis of civilization. We need epistemologies of the global South to build systemic alternatives, and local actions to materialize the transformation towards such alternatives. Therefore, social determinantion of health 1 – do not to confuse with social determinants of health – is a key concept in SUP.
Based on the social determination of health, we can think that social systems are organized in levels of complexity, with the world-system at one end, individuals at the other end, and in the middle, families, communities, territorial divisions, contractual associations, and other institutions. The more complex levels are reproduced by regulating their less complex constituents, while these, not fully regulated, have relative autonomy to produce small systemic changes with accumulative power. The world-system reproduces colonial structures that are opposed to decolonial alternatives with relative autonomy. OHP stand against colonial reproduction and foster decolonial transformation to promote healthy epidemiological profiles.
OHP has yet another meaning, as it designates a network of people, projects, and institutions dedicated to promoting One Health of Peripheries. Professor Oswaldo Santos Baquero created the OHP network. Before becoming a professor, he had followed and participated in cultural and peripheral movements in Bogotá, Colombia, and then in São Paulo, Brasil. In 2017, as a professor, he started attending monthly meetings and other activities in the Jardim São Remo favela, neighboring the University of São Paulo (USP). In 2019, he wrote a project to work with the São Remo community and submitted it to the first call of the Learning in the Community Program (Programa Aprender na Comunidade) at USP. In that project, OHP was born as praxis to work in peripheral realities. Despite the embryonic stage of the OHP network in that first project, the OHP actions were recognized, among 223 Brazilian projects from different areas of knowledge, with the first place of the Solidarity Learning – Experiences that Transform Award.
OHP as a network has been working mainly from (1) the Department of Preventive Veterinary Medicine and Animal Health of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of São Paulo (VPS-FMVZ-USP), (2) the Research Group on Peripheries of the Institute of Advanced Studies of the USP (nPeriferias -IEA-USP), and (2) the Jardim São Remo favela. However, OHP’s actions extend to other peripheries (not just favelas), and some of its collaborators come from other academic institutions and artistic collectives.
1: See the references available in the “Learn More” section. For a discussion of the social determination of OHP, see the manuscripts cited above.
Panoramic image by our friend Notable Salazar @salazarnotable