Global Health at the Human-Animal-Ecosystem Interface – University of Geneva | Coursera – Free Online Course

About this course:

The University of Geneva, Institute Pasteur, University of Montreal and Centre Virchow-Villermé/University Paris Descartes welcome you to this new MOOC on “Global Health at the Human-Animal-Ecosystem Interface”! Over the next 5 weeks, you will explore and learn about some of the major and current Global Health Challenges at the Human-Animal-Ecosystem Interface: zoonotic emerging infections (e.g. Ebola, Nipah, MERS, Avian Influenza), antimicrobial resistance, neglected tropical diseases (e.g. rabies, leishmaniasis, zoonotic TB), snakebite and other human-animal conflicts etc.

You will learn new concepts from the field of epidemiology, social anthropology, disease ecology, veterinary sciences, global health policy etc. and approaches such as One Health, Eco-Health and Planetary Health. Also, you will learn about innovative tools and frameworks used to study and tackle some of these Global Health challenges of the Sustainable Development Goals era. This MOOC proposes you a dynamic, international and interdisciplinary programme based on the One Heath approach (human-animal-environmental dimensions) and involving more than 30 top experts from more than 20 academic and research institutions and international organisations based in Geneva, Paris, Montreal and the world.

Policy makers from the World Health Organisation, clinicians from the University Hospitals of Geneva, epidemiologists from Institut Pasteur etc. will share with you their knowledge and experiences all along this MOOC. Video-lectures have been filmed in different parts of the world and settings (from the field to the lab and office) and will be combined with the latest open readings and interactive activities in the discussion forum, video-conferences etc.

But that is not all! This MOOC will also give you the opportunity to join us in Geneva and develop your project idea during a workshop in July 2017, for free! This MOOC will keep evolving and enriching actively over time and a whole section on health promotion at the human-animal-ecosystem interface will be added in autumn 2017.

The development of this MOOC was led by Dr. Rafael Ruiz de Castañeda, Dr. Isabelle Bolon and Prof. Antoine Flahault from the Institute of Global Health of the University of Geneva. The list of instructors is completed by Prof. Arnaud Fontanet (Institut Pasteur) and Prof. André Ravel (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Montreal).

Watch our teaser here and let’s get started!   (with subtitles in French and in Chinese) Interface – University of Geneva | Coursera

Find out more at THIS LINK

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Unreal Veterinary Careers! An interview with Dr Andrea Britton of Ultimate Efficacy Consulting

Intro by Emma – I am so excited about this one!

I met this fabulous person at the Australian Vets in Public Health dinner at AVA conference last year. We got chatting about interesting jobs and shared journeys (albeit working on the same issue at different stages) and all the inspiring ways that vets help out… When I asked for her name – Andrea told me and I am pretty sure I let slip – ‘Oh… wow… you are Andrea Britton…!’ in unmasked awe! Oops… hmmm… (not so smooth!)

So it is my great pleasure to introduce you to Andrea today – and for her to give you a glimpse at some of the fabulous work that she has done and is still undertaking – and to highlight some of the great ways vets can make this world a better place….

Welcome Andrea… May I ask… What are you working on/towards at the moment?

Andrea (A): At the moment I’m working on helping deliver the Sustainable Development Goals relating to health and poverty. I am fortunate to have developed collaborative relationships with groups in Asia and am assisting them as a veterinary public health epidemiologist to eliminate dog-mediated human rabies by 2030.

I am also assisting World Health Organisation (WHO) in ensuring effective and safe snake antivenoms for people in Sub Saharan Africa where over 100,000 people die annually from snake envenomation. With my equine veterinary and regulatory science background I am ideally positioned to provide expert advice on improving antivenom production in horses whilst also improving the welfare of the animals involved.

As a One Health advocate I am active in promoting One Health programs within Australia. My rural upbringing on a sheep/beef cattle property in central NSW and working in mixed rural veterinary practise provided first-hand experience on the needs of rural and indigenous Australians. I am keen to improve the health and wellbeing of rural and remote communities by assisting Non-Government Organisation’s (NGOs) like Vets Beyond Borders (Director on Board for 6 years) and AMRRIC (member).

Photo: Visiting CUPA (Compassion Unlimited Plus Action) animal birth control and anti-rabies clinic in Bangalore, India in October 2015 on route to Vets Beyond Borders program in Bylakuppe. Standing beside Dr Shiela Roa (Co-founder) and Mr John, Manager clinic.

What drives you?

A: I am a life-long learner with a passion to study and ensure evidence-based culturally appropriate methods are introduced into One Health programs. I am very driven on programs I am passionate about. Having a supportive family and husband has been essential to my energy and drive. Helping people and animals also provides my strong persistence to keep on going and looking for solutions, at times to my own detriment. People say I’m great at connecting people and maintaining associations. Over the past 29 years since graduating from The University of Sydney vet school, I have slowly realised to make a difference in my professional life I need to stay topped up spiritually through yoga and meditation.  Perhaps my biggest motivator is the wish to leave my children and others with a land and world that provides a healthy future for generations to come.

As an example of what drives me. When I was on the Board of Examiners of the AVBC (for 8 years) I counselled a Sudanese veterinarian who had tried for over 10 years to pass the National Veterinary Exam, this vet was trained in agricultural veterinary science and had little experience in small animals/equine and had no contacts to get experience. Through introductions to vets– he gained the necessary experience and confidence and has now been working in rural Victoria for many years – this is what drives me, helping other vets to succeed, providing small opportunities and support and being empathetic.

What have been the major transitions in your path?

A: Studying Agricultural Science at Sydney University (1983) and transferring to Veterinary Science (graduated 1988).

Working as a mixed practice veterinarian (Australia and UK) and then becoming an equine resident stud vet on the second biggest Thoroughbred stud in Australia and then equine vet at Canberra Veterinary Hospital.

Deciding to move to pharmaceutical industry in 1995 started work as Veterinary Services Manager at CSL Limited, working in R and D and regulatory affairs.

Studying for my ANZCVS membership in Epidemiology with 12 other diverse veterinarians (1997), this provided the knowledge to assess and inquire differently about problems on a population basis.

Setting up my own consultancy in 2002 called Ultimate Efficacy Consulting Pty Ltd, to have more flexibility in my professional and personal life (don’t think that actually happened with a baby and 3 year old and 2 nannies).

Working as an epidemiologist and expert witness during the equine influenza outbreak, which provided the motivation to study a Masters of Public Health majoring in epidemiology and biostatistics at the School of Population Health at Melbourne University.

Studying part of MPH in India at the Comprehensive Primary Health Project, Jamkhed, where I learnt about taking time to develop trust with people in projects and meeting communities felt needs before addressing project objectives.

Consulting globally for WHO and other organisations using a One Health approach.

What has been a major highlight of your career?

A: A couple have been:

  • Helping to conduct trials and writing the registration package for Gudair an Ovine Johnes vaccine for sheep and goats providing farmers like my dad with a control option for this regulated disease, where back in the 1990 many farmers destocked their farms to control this challenging disease.
  • Being the only invited Australian to attend the WHO and OIE in collaboration with FAO and GARC, Global Rabies Conference in Geneva last December where 300 world leaders developed a framework to eliminate dog-mediated human rabies by 2030.
  • Writing an epidemiology report on how Equine Influenza entered and exited the quarantine station in August 2007, which helped guide an inquiry into this disease incursion. This didn’t feel like a highlight at the time but on reflection it lead to me to studying epidemiology and global health within my MPH.

IMG_2908What advice would you provide a younger you?

A: RELAX, start yoga and meditation and practise mindfulness early in life.

Take each day as it comes and don’t rush. Learn to say “No”, this one I am still learning.

LISTEN to your gut-feeling/intuition as it is almost always right!! Trust yourself and surround yourself with positive, inspirational and empathetic people.

Keep believing in your dreams and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t be or do something.

It’s OK to FAIL – this one took me half a century to learn. There is nothing wrong with failing this develops resilience and a growth mindset.

Emma: Thanks for your time today Andrea!









Antimicrobial resistance in veterinary practice

“Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest in a society that believes in the freedom of the commons. Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all.”
Garrett Hardin, The Tragedy of the Commons

“If we fail to address this problem quickly and comprehensively, antimicrobial resistance will make providing high-quality universal healthcare coverage more difficult if not impossible…It will undermine sustainable food production. And it will put the sustainable development goals in jeopardy.”Ban Ki-moon, outgoing UN Secretary General




Antimicrobial resistance is a critical issue for both human and animal health. As practitioners who are able to prescribe and dispense antibiotics, we (veterinarians) need to ensure that our practices are up to date and we are doing our best to limit the risk of antimicrobial resistance – not only for the sake of our patients, but also our clients and our staff. For too long have we put our use of antimicrobials as a side thought, reflecting that it would not be an issue in our realm of practice – a true tragedy of the commons.

In light of that, I feel the need to highlight that next week is Antibiotic awareness week – a week to raise awareness about the problem at hand, get up to speed on what our respective countries are doing, address our respective knowledge gaps and to develop solutions collectively. You might say it is a “One Health” issue (yes, cross-linking to earlier blogs is the “new black”).

The Australian Veterinarians in Public Health (a special interest group under the Australian Veterinary Association), a group I am proud to be a committee member of, is hosting its next webinar during Antibiotic Awareness Week on the 16th of November. The webinar will feature Dr. Laura Hardefeldt, a large animal internal medicine specialist, who is currently working on her PhD with the National Centre for Antimicrobial Stewardship and The University of Melbourne. The aim of this webinar is to update veterinary practitioners about the mechanisms of resistance in bacteria, discuss how stewardship programs are being implemented internationally in veterinary practices and in agriculture, and some ideas of how stewardship could look within Australian veterinary practices.

This is a critical webinar for all veterinarians from all fields of practice. One hopes that such a webinar will inspire some veterinarians (if not all) to have an open discussion about the judicious use of antimicrobials in their respective clinics and help develop their own stewardship programs (1). Go on, sign up and bring on the new wave of awesome in Antimicrobial stewardship.

Register here: Australian Veterinary Association

Guy is a Director for Veterinary Careers – he secretly works in clinical veterinary practice (and his opinions are reflective of his own and not of his place of work), whilst completing his Masters in Veterinary Public Health. He enjoys the interface of clinical practice and case management whilst unleashing his VPH-nerdiness onto the unsuspecting public. 

1 – I fully appreciate that it’s not just veterinarians who need to be part of the solution and that there are other drivers that push resistance in microbes – and that will be the subject of a future 1 hour blog in due time. Needless to say, “it’s complicated”.

One Health Day, 3rd of Nov 2016

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.

Other areas for medical-veterinary collaboration may include dog bites/attacks, toxoplasmosis education or even the zoonotic potential of antimicrobial resistant bacteria.

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…

Source: Events Listing 2016 – One Health Commission

International Meeting on Emerging Diseases and Surveillance Vienna, Austria • IMED • November 4 – 7, 2016


Since its inception, IMED has been a summit that unifies our approach to pathogens in the broadest ecological context. Drawing together human and veterinary health specialists, IMED serves as a true One Health forum where those working in diverse specialties and diverse regions can meet, discuss, present and challenge one another with findings and new ideas. While pathogens emerge and mutate, our methodology for detection, surveillance, prevention, control, and treatment also continue to evolve. New approaches to vaccination and isolation the uses of novel data sources and genomics, novel laboratory methods, rapid point-of-care diagnostics, risk communication, political and societal responses to outbreaks have all seen innovation and change that will be explored at IMED 2016.

Target Audience: Healthcare professionals including physicians, and veterinarians, public health specialists, epidemiologists, research scientists, pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry, journalists, other interested persons.

Topics: Planned session topics include: • Disease Surveillance, Detection, Reporting and Outbreak Modeling • Ethics of New Methodologies of Disease Surveillance • Vectorborne and Zoonotic Diseases • Foodborne and Waterborne Infections • Infections Related to Travel and Migration of Humans and Animals • Animal Reservoirs for Emerging Pathogens • Agents of Bioterrorism/Biological Warfare • Laboratory Biosafety and Emerging Pathogen Research • Specific Disease Threats: Pandemic Influenza, Anthrax, C. difficile, Q fever, Rift Valley Fever, MERS, West Nile Virus, Zika Virus, Hemorrhagic Fevers, Bluetongue, Chikungunya, TSEs, Healthcare Associated Infections, and Others • Antimicrobial Resistance • Vaccines and Diagnostics for Emerging Diseases • Submitted Abstracts (Oral and Poster) Reg. No.: ATU10902102, commercial court Vienna FN 9129a

We (they) look forward to welcoming you in Vienna!