This 'One Health' buzzword... what is it? Who is implementing it, and who actually is following through?
The idea of ‘one health’ dates all the way back to the 19th century when Rudolf Virchow, MD studied links between human and veterinary medicine. He came up with the term ‘zoonosis’ in regards to a pathogen that can be transmitted from animals to humans. This sparked the idea that medicine is not segregated into different categories, but it is rather interconnected. Throughout the past century, scientists have become aware that other sectors such as environmental science and agriculture are involved as well. Today, ‘one health’ is being seemingly adopted by many nations, but who is following through with the idea?
Various countries and organizations have embraced the 'one health' concept, but there is quite a bit of variation in how far and to what extent it has really been implemented. Sometimes there are a few obvious developments beyond yearly interdisciplinary conferences. This is a great starting point, but unfortunately the ideas generated may not result in sustainable collaboration or initiatives.
The United Kingdom has a good example of following through with the ‘one health’ initiative. Below you will find a downloadable link on a document from the UK titled “Implementing a One Health Approach: The Example of Antimicrobial Resistance- the UK Perspective.”
In this document, actual data sets are shown along with monitoring of the country’s progress in different ‘one health’ fields. In the UK, there is a system in place for monitoring antibiotic prescription, so they are able to check if their ‘one health’ approach to prudent use of antibiotics is working. Having this monitoring system is important for accountability and to ensure that ‘one health’ plans made are carried out, and do not stop at the drawing board.
In the United States, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has created the Task Force on Antimicrobial Stewardship in Companion Animal Practice (TFASCAP). They have also been working internationally with a 'one health' focus to solve the problem of AMR. Here are some links to their work so far:
The table below extracted from an article in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents exhibits the different organizations with a surveillance system of resistant bacteria. The table also show's who is following the ‘one health’ initiative by including both humans, agriculture, and animals.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) created this video on the idea of 'One Health.' The video talks about implementing the idea of 'one health'. The main points listed in this video were as follows:
- Foster collaborative relationships between human health, animal health, and environmental health partners.
- Improve communication between sectors.
- Coordinate disease surveillance activities.
- Develop uniform messaging to the public.
This blog post is part of the IPFD Student Project 2017 by Ariel Minardi.
For an overview of her project and links to other material on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) and Prudent Use of Antibiotics see:
Harvey, Felicity. "Implementing a One Health Approach: The Example of Antimicrobial Resistance – the UK Perspective." Public and International Health Directorate Department of Health. 30 Jun. 2015. Web.
"One Health." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 25 Oct. 2016. Web.
Queenan, Kevin, Barbara HÃ¤sler, and Jonathan Rushton. "A One Health Approach to Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance: Is There a Business Case for It?" International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents 48.4 (2016): 422-27. Web.