CFHI Planetary Health & One Health Initiative

CFHI supports Planetary Health and One Health Movements. These approaches are defined by the recognition that the health of humans, animals and ecosystems are interconnected. They involve applying a coordinated, collaborative, multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral approach to address potential or existing risks that originate at the animal-human-ecosystems interface. These themes are reflected in many of our programs.

Thanks to technological improvements and the use of planetary resources, human health has improved tremendously in recent decades. Examples include increased life expectancy, reduced poverty, and reductions in maternal and infant mortality, but this progress has been accompanied by unprecedented environmental changes that jeopardise future generations.

Current threats to the environment such as climate change, biodiversity loss, soil degradation and water scarcity are already proving a threat to human health. The full impact of these environmental damages are not completely understood, but the current implications should be taken seriously.

The health of human civilization depends on the state of the natural systems and the One Health and Planetary Health approaches aim to address these cross-disciplinary challenges.

The diversity of the CFHI Global Health programs offers you the possibility to explore further these transdisciplinary and integrated approaches.


Explore Planetary Health with CFHI

Introduced in 2014, the Planetary Health concept defines the highest attainable standard of health, wellbeing and equity worldwide. Planetary Health encompasses a wide spectrum of disciplines aiming to foster education about planetary health, food waste reduction, diets with low environmental impact, better governance, efficient use of water, ending deforestation, and family planning/city planning.

Discover the CFHI Programs with Planetary Health Themes:

Community Health and Native Healing (Hawaii, United States) 

Launched in October 2018 and based on Hawaii’s Big Island, CFHI's first domestic program incorporates strong themes of Planetary Health. In this program, you will look at health in a holistic way. You will learn about health challenges (such as homelessness, poverty, drug use, lack of access to healthy food) and the innovative clinical and non-clinical community-based approaches implemented for addressing them. You will also study the Native Hawaiian cultural values, beliefs, history, and the practice of traditional kanaka maoli lapa‘au (Hawaiian medicine) in which the human health and the health of the environment are linked. The diversity of visits and activities, dubbed “Kumulau” or “many roots of the tree” by local leaders, will emphasize that culture is not separate from health and environment. This program operated in this unique island context is a perfect illustration of Planetary Health challenges that transcends borders. Learn more

Community Medicine: From Rainforest to Coast (Puyo/Guayaquil, Ecuador) 

This program takes you from the public hospital in an urban setting to a small public healthcare clinic at the edge of the rainforest. You will get exposure to rural and community medicine dealing with a wide range of conditions. This program provides an anthropological insight into indigenous communities through a visit to a Shuar tribe village. In this Planetary Health program, you will learn from local experts about a wide range of environmental disciplines (botany, animal husbandry, forestry, entomology) and the sociocultural and political aspects of jungle preservation. Learn more


Child Health & Social Determinants (Accra, Ghana)

In the bustling capital city of Accra, this program covers the scope of the various factors that directly affect the health of Ghanaian children. The major themes include Planetary Health approaches such as malnutrition, children without sufficient access to proteins, lack of clean water, family planning, etc. Learn more

Chronic Disease & Integrative Medicine (Mysore/Saragur Village, India)

This program focuses on indigenous farming communities and the holistic approach to health. Lifestyle and dietary changes have led to the increase of chronic diseases (such as hypertension, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease) which are observed in higher rates in a sedentary population. This program highlights how to address these issues through a combination of western and traditional Ayurvedic medicine. It is an opportunity to learn about these plant-based medicines grown on-site and the importance of the cultural and historical practices and belief systems in these communities Learn more

Intro to Traditional Medicine (Rishikesh/Dehradum, India)

This program integrates themes related to Planetary Health. In many regions of the world, traditional medicine is the only affordable care for most of the population. A big part of traditional medicine involves the use of plants for treatment and is naturally aligned against aggressive farming or deforestation practices. This program creates a connection between traditional and modern medicine and aims to highlight how the two can work in harmony by developing cross-cultural competency. The week spent in a small clinic in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains offers an opportunity to learn about these integrated approaches. Learn more

Public Health Delivery Innovations & Community Medicine (New Delhi, India)

The brief placements at several NGOs in this program cover significant aspects of Planetary Health. This is a unique opportunity to learn more about the ecology of poverty and how these organizations address social and health challenges in the Indian cultural context. In many of these settings, environmental approaches and social reforms are integrated. These projects aim to develop environmental sanitation, alternative energy or waste management through education and vocational training. CFHI’s partners at this program site promotes human rights and focuses their efforts on bringing care to vulnerable populations (untouchable caste, LGBTQ community, HIV patients, street children, homeless population, adolescents with addiction). Learn more

Remote Island Medicine in Philippines (Manila/Alabat, Philippines)

This program takes you from the urban settings of Manila to the remote islands known as geographically isolated disadvantaged areas (GIDA). You will have the opportunity to experience first-hand the healthcare challenges in the Philippines and to observe the impacts on health and environment of different industries  such as mining, fishing or farming. Learn more

Healthcare Systems and Community-Based Development (Arusha, Tanzania)

Tanzania illustrates several modern challenges represented by the Planetary Health model. Tanzania faces environmental threats with the increased frequency and intensity of droughts. Water shortages have a negative impact on human health: these impacts include the spread of disease, malnutrition due to lack of rainfall, challenges in water collection and small scale farming. Through this program, you will witness the consequences of climate change. Working with local experts, you will contribute to improving socioeconomic and health outcomes of the local population, including capacity building for women, nutrition, water sanitation, and agricultural initiatives. Learn more

Nutrition, Food Security & Sustainable Agriculture (Kabale, Uganda) 

This program offers a unique exposure to Planetary Health through a ground-breaking approach to improving food security and nutrition. CFHI’s local partner in Kabale leads actions in health, education and economic development. From a primary care clinic to rural communities, you will witness the implementation of practical solutions in health, farming and education. Learn more

Omni Med: Community Health Workers @ Global Health (Mukono District, Uganda)

This program provides the opportunity to look at several social and technological innovations involving Planetary Health. Learn more about the importance and organization of Community Health Workers in Uganda’s health system who help with the shortage of healthcare professionals. In addition to preventive health education, primary diagnosis and health monitoring, they play a role in building low cost technologies maximizing existing natural resources and having direct positive impacts on human health, such as cookstoves helping to reduce asthma or sources of clean water. Learn more

Explore One Health with CFHI


One Health highlights the connectedness between the health of animals, humans and the environment: the health of one is intrinsically connected with the other. It emphasizes the interdisciplinary collaboration between human and veterinary medicine.

Discover the CFHI Programs with One Health Themes:

Doing more with less (Tarija, Bolivia) 

This program in Southern Bolivia emphasizes one of the main One Health challenges, the vector-borne pathologies such as parasitosis and Chagas. Chagas is called the “new AIDS of the Americas”. It is caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi and transmitted to animals and people by insects. During this program, the rotations at the Chagas clinic offer you an unique opportunity to witness the diagnosis, treatments and research on this disease not commonly seen in North America. Learn more

Remote Island Medicine in Philippines (Manila/Alabat, Philippines)

This program highlights some of the modern One Health challenges. The first week introduces you to vector-borne diseases - such as Zika viruses - and zoonotic diseases emerging from wildlife and production animal species. The second week on remote islands offers an opportunity to observe how veterinary health overlaps with human health through a focus on campaigns to reduce rabies. Learn more

Nutrition, Food security & Sustainable Agriculture (Kabale, Uganda)

This program offers a unique opportunity to learn more about One Health. Learn about veterinary approaches developed in the Rabbit Breeding and Training Center in Kabale.Through observation at this program location, discover how proper care and hygiene for raising rabbits has led to a grassroots effort to improve economic, social and health conditions. Learn more

  • Other CFHI programs with One Health themes: 

While the following programs are not solely focused around One Health initiatives, you will find some related themes (such as vector-borne or zoonotic diseases):

Community Medicine: From Rainforest to Coast (Puyo/Guayaquil, Ecuador)

Hospital medicine and infectious diseases (Mumbai, India)


Academic partnership


CFHI has long been committed to promote Planetary Health and these approaches have been reflected in our customized programs with academic partners

  • Summer 2017: Summer Service Learning Programs for engineering students led in partnership with Stanford University. Learn more
  • Summer 2016: Water sanitation in Argentina - CFHI & Stanford University School of Engineering. One of the challenges in achieving sustainable development is providing adequate access to sanitation and water treatment, which is considered a human right. The city of Córdoba, Argentina, faces many problems with water pollution and sanitation. In the summer 2016, a team of students from Stanford’s School of Engineering traveled in partnership with CFHI to Córdoba for a project addressing the occurrence of sewage overflows in the streets of the city. These overflows generated a series of adverse impacts and exposed more than 1,300,000 people to significant health risks. Through this project, students contributed to the planning and execution of comprehensive solutions based on thorough research.
  • Summer 2015:  Access to clean water in Uganda - CFHI & Stanford University School of Engineering. In August 2015, a group of 8 students from Stanford’s School of Engineering traveled to Kabale, Uganda, where they were hosted by CFHI’s partner, the Kigezi Healthcare Foundation. In Kabale, they worked alongside local experts and stakeholders to propose, design, and construct a groundwater pumping system that would increase community access to clean water and crop productivity during the season. Their project sought to address a critical need: 44% of families in Uganda do not have access to safe water and high levels of crop failure during the dry season cause significant hardship for this primarily farming community, affecting both humans and livestock. Drawing on local knowledge from KIHEFO’s network as well as their own expertise and experiences, the students laid the groundwork for an important new development that will increase access to safe, clean water for years to come.

For faculty administrators, students or partners interested in these approaches, please contact Robin at robin@cfhi.org


Further reading

  • Gibbs, E. P. J. (2014). The evolution of One Health: a decade of progress and challenges for the future. Veterinary Record, 174(4), 85-91.
  • Whitmee, S., Haines, A., Beyrer, C., Boltz, F., Capon, A. G., de Souza Dias, B. F., ... & Horton, R. (2015). Safeguarding human health in the Anthropocene epoch: report of The Rockefeller Foundation–Lancet Commission on planetary health. The Lancet, 386(10007), 1973-2028.