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Sixth Annual One Health Day Promotes an Interconnected Approach to Healthcare
November 3 marks the sixth annual One Health Day, a global call to promote the concept that the health of humans, animals, and the environment is interconnected through education and awareness campaigns.
The world has never been more connected, and One Health is the idea that healthcare and wellbeing are no different. This movement advocates for an approach to healthcare that recognizes the relationship between people, animals, and the environment and how they affect each other. One Health Day seeks to promote increase global consciousness while driving support for policies that account for a One Health perspective.
Why One Health matters
Human health is not just about humans. Although questions remain about the origins of COVID-19, other well-known recent pandemics, such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Ebola, have scientific evidence pointing toward an animal origin.1 In the veterinary setting, the more common concerns are rabies and toxoplasmosis.
According to the CDC: “Animals also share our susceptibility to some diseases and environmental hazards. Because of this, they can sometimes serve as early warning signs of potential human illness. For example, birds often die of West Nile virus before people in the same area get sick with West Nile virus infection.”2
The time is now
One Health is not a new concept, but it has been growing in importance at an accelerating rate. "COVID-19 has made it clear that we need a new type of surveillance, not the traditional kind that summarizes incidence of diseases retrospectively but proactive detection on emerging events," said Professor of Pathology at Western University of Health Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine in Pomona, CA, Dr. Tracey McNamara
She continued, "We need to be able to pick up blips of unusual activity above baseline across species. We need but do not yet have near real-time veterinary epidemiological surveillance."
As human populations continue to expand an encroach on the habitats of animals and their environments, people and nature have been pushed closer together. The result is an increased number of opportunities for disease to pass between animals and humans. When coupled with climate change complications disrupting habitats and the environment, as well as the continued growth of international travel, those opportunities only further increase.1
How to get involved
Healthcare professionals can vocally support the concept of One Health and encourage collaboration between all healthcare sectors and professions. Social media users can share One Health Day graphics provided by the CDC, on its website, and spread the word using the hashtag #OneHealthDay.
McNamara concluded: "If we are concerned about rapid detection of impending zoonotic public health threats, veterinarians are the people who will recognize something new in animal sentinels. We are the front line of defense, not only for animal health but for human health as well. We are integral to the practice of One Health and must be willing to fight for a seat at the table. Our time has come."
- Mallapaty, S. Meet the Scientists Investigating the Origins of the Covid Pandemic. Nature News. Nature Publishing Group, December 2, 2020. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-03402-1
- One Health Office Fact Sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, February 3, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/onehealth/who-we-are/one-health-office-fact-sheet.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fonehealth%2Fmultimedia%2Ffactsheet.html