The inaugural International One Health Day will be on the 3rd of November. Pop over to the One Health Commission’s website to see what One Health events will be held in your geographical region.
For those not in the know, One Health is a multi-disciplinary collaborative movement between practitioners and scientists of human, animal and environmental health. Classic examples often include zoonotic diseases such as Zika virus, Ebola and rabies. Yet the One Health also includes areas such as agricultural production, disease surveillance, translational medicine and plenty more. I will gladly say that the issue of Anthropogenic Climate Change is a One Health issue.
The concept of One Health gets a lot of traction and attention on an international and national level, providing opportunities to break down silos between different government departments to tackle shared issues. Yet I have found discussions of One Health at a grassroots level a little harder to reach for. As someone who is a clinical practitioner these days, I am appreciating that the biggest hurdle is time – balancing the mix of consultations, management of hospital and outpatient cases, I personally have found it hard to step next door to the medical centre to have a chat.
Beyond the time hurdle, there is also the perceived power-differential that may exist between practitioners and scientists – something ingrained into us from day 1 of university-training. Thankfully some universities are seeking to address this by designing undergraduate One Health courses and sharing faculties. Yet, we (as veterinary practitioners) can’t operate with the excuse of lacking collaborative opportunities.
For example, in one of his last talks, the late Prof Rick Speare (James Cook University) made the case of creating collaboration between veterinary and medical practitioners when dealing with ringworm outbreaks within a household – whilst the medical practitioner may provide advice on treating human ringworm cases, they will often recommend the household pets be tested for ringworm – we will work the case up, potentially identify the fungus on an offending cat and inform the clients. Yet there is a missed opportunity to communicate with the client’s medical practitioner to update them of the finding and share the advice provided to the clients on how to address the environmental contamination.
Obviously this approach should also be encouraged with the environmental sector and one day I will write a blog about the opportunities there.
Anyway, this is my longwinded way of saying – get out to one of the One Health events in your area tomorrow, make friends with a professional/practitioner/scientist from another field and make sweet, sweet science…