Pressures at the interface between humans, animals and their environments are increasing exponentially to the point of affecting the health of individuals and populations. Broadly speaking, environmental epigenetics describes how environmental factors affect cellular epigenetics and consequently human health(1). The convergence of science and technology in the digital age has led to the development of innovative devices that provide accurate information on some diseases that were previously unavailable for prevention, diagnosis, treatment and monitoring(2). The strategic use of protein engineering methods and approaches, in particular, has led to the discovery of the best enzymatic properties, resulting in the growth of their catalytic activity(3)(4).
In addition, the emergence of new viral diseases with pandemic spread in the 2000s gave rise to the “Une Santé/One Health” approach, which is a holistic concept that emphasises the inherent relationship between human and animal health and the protection of ecosystems(5)(6). Human and animal health are interconnected to the environment and changes in the environment have a significant impact on health. Through a multisectoral and transdisciplinary approach, public health threats can be better monitored and controlled(7). The “Une Santé/One Health” approach works to conserve nature, preserve ecosystems and monitor the emergence of new diseases(8).
In short, this interconnection between biotechnology, development and health requires us to stop this epistemological monism in order to fundamentally question the place of man and his future at the heart of this stream of multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary knowledge:
Moreover, humans are acquiring specific knowledge that can improve and model tissues and manipulate the human genome. He is able to measure organogenesis and understand how it differs from other organisms in order to probe the development of the underlying biology of our species(9). In the face of this increasing growth of reductionist and functionalist materialism, which limits the truth about man to his biogenetic dimension, one is entitled to ask whether man does not possess a metagenetic dimension. Can the human body be reduced to the biologically explicable body? Can man be reduced to scientifically explainable man? With the exponential growth of interconnections between biotechnologies, development and health, does man not run the risk of becoming the object of his own research?
Moreover, the contribution of biotechnology to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases is currently undeniable. Some even believe that biotechnology will extend life spans to 1000 years and ageing will remain a thing of the past(10). With the African continent disproportionately affected by chronic and infectious diseases, health biotechnologies certainly offer potential hope for developing effective strategies to combat the vicious cycle of poverty and infection by helping to develop and improve affordable new drugs, diagnostics and vaccines against these diseases(11). However, what are the legal, ethical, social and cultural implications of bringing biotechnologies to Africa? In short, the current situation shows the need to combine efforts that bring together different fields of study such as human and animal medicine, biology and biotechnologies, ecology, economics and the humanities to address global health issues.
These are some of the many concerns that highlight the challenges inherent in the interconnection of biotechnologies, development and health in Africa. Therefore, to discuss, revive and deepen this interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary debate, the Second Conference of the School of Health Sciences of the Catholic University of Central Africa (ESS-UCAC) will focus on the theme “Biotechnology and Development following the “Une Santé/One Health” approach. Three main themes are proposed: