One Health Initiative Unites Human & Veterinary Medicine for a Healthier World
As our population increases, humans continue to encroach on wildlands and animals, resulting in the sharing of infectious organisms. As a consequence, the world has experienced an increase in new diseases, which is not only affecting individual people, but also livestock, pets, and the economies of the world.
Thirty-five recently emerged diseases (such as West Nile virus, monkeypox, Ebola, SARS, and prion diseases) have zoonotic or vector-borne origins. This means they’re transmissible between animals and humans, either directly or via insects. It’s estimated that 75% of all emerging and re-emerging diseases fall into these two categories.
In response, organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Medical Association, The American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, and several others have thrown their support to the One Health Initiative.
What Is One Health?
Endorsed and supported by nearly 1,000 scientists worldwide and a long list of national health, medical, veterinary, and agricultural organizations, the One Health Initiative is a movement which aims to create opportunities for equal, all-inclusive collaboration between a range of medical and veterinary professionals and others working in disciplines related to health and the environment.
The One Health Initiative
The One Health Initiative recognizes the unavoidable interconnectedness of humans, animals, the environment, and health. In spite of this enmeshment, the structures of our scientific, medical, and veterinary communities and their respective education systems are quite separate. This has deleteriously led to siloed information.
In a direct response to the increasing concern over the threat which zoonotic diseases and significant outbreaks have on people and animals, the One Health Initiative hopes to increase cooperation and decrease communication barriers within these currently disconnected disciplines.
The Initiative has outlined goals, which include integrating the educational systems of veterinary medical schools, human medical schools, and public health schools. The One Health Initiative also hopes to facilitate cross-discipline communication by means of conferences, health networks, and publications in professional journals. One Health is also working to support additional research on cross-species diseases and their transmission. This includes increased surveillance and the implementation of improved control systems.
Another primary goal of One Health is to inform the public and educate political leaders in order to encourage cooperation between researchers, scientists, medical and veterinary professionals, and industry. The initiative is working to foster partnerships between government, industry, and academia to further the evaluation and development of new diagnostic tools, treatments, and preventative measures, like vaccines, to better control the transmission of disease.
Why Collaboration Is Better for Everyone
Zoonotic diseases threaten wild animals, pets, livestock, and people. Improved interdisciplinary collaboration will result in increased knowledge and better strategies for preventing the increasing threat of contagious disease.