Kicking off the year with good health and One Health

dvm360dvm360 January 2023
Volume 54
Issue 1
Pages: 11

Celebrating One Health Awareness Month with Adam Christman, DVM, MBA

Have you ever decided to jump-start your year with a more holistic approach to health care? If you stop and think about what we do for a living, we truly are taking care of so many species of animals, their environments, and the humans with whom they live or coexist. And it’s fantastic that there is a lot more education and understanding about One Health.

One Health is an approach calling for “the collaborative efforts of multiple disciplines working locally, nationally, and globally, to attain optimal health for people, animals, and our environment,” according to the One Health Initiative Task Force. In this viewpoint, public health is no longer seen in purely human terms. It sounds like something that veterinary professionals have been doing for many years.

A number of organizations throughout the world support the objectives of One Health, including the One Health Commission, One Health Initiative, One Health Platform, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations-World Organization for Animal Health-WHO collaboration, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s One Health Office. Some interesting facts and statistics from are as follows:

  • Worldwide, nearly 75% of all emerging human infectious diseases in the past 3 decades originated in animals.
  • The world population is projected to grow from 7 billion in 2011 to
    9 billion by 2050.
  • To provide adequate health care, food, and water for the growing global population, the health professions and their related disciplines and institutions must work together.
  • The Earth’s environmental health affects human and animal health through contamination, pollution, and changing climate conditions that may lead to the emergence of new infectious agents.
  • Human-animal interactions and bonds can beneficially impact the health of both humans and animals.

What I love most about One Health is the education that is being done in elementary schools around the world. Our wonderful colleague Deborah Thomson, DVM, founder of One Health Lessons, helps to inspire and educate children and adults around the world to value the interconnection between the health of humans, animals, plants, and the environment. She has lectured at our dvm360® veterinary conferences, and the impact her organization is having is truly powerful and a global phenomenon. Since 2020, her organization has taught more than 20,000 children and trained more than 150 volunteers.

Deborah Thomson, DVM, teaching students about tick-borne diseases, risk factors, and how to protect oneself.

Deborah Thomson, DVM, teaching students about tick-borne diseases, risk factors, and how to protect oneself.

I share this information because in January is a One Health Awareness campaign supported by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The AVMA website has plenty of information and social media campaigns for you and your staff to share with your clients. Examples include zoonotic diseases, vector, and mosquito-borne diseases, loss of biodiversity and conservation medicine, climate change, food security, disaster preparedness, water security, and much more. There are also 2 publications
I highly recommend:

  1. Introduction to One Health: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Planetary Health, by Sharon L. Deem, Kelly E. Lane-deGraaf, and Elizabeth A. Rayhel
  2. One Health for One World: A Compendium of Case Studies, published by Veterinarians Without Borders, Canada

One Health can easily be discussed throughout the year with your team members and clients. It helps to create a strategy that you can share with your community during the spring and summer months. Once your clients understand the value and education behind your mission of One Health, they will want to assist you in doing community outreach such as planting trees or cleaning up the parks in your town.

One Health truly underscores the role of ecology as an integrative science for the planet. Start the conversations and let’s keep the momentum going throughout 2023. Wishing you and yours a healthy new year!

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