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One Health gearing up to battle 'wicked problems'One Health gearing up to battle 'wicked problems'

Commission to tackle problems like unsustainable food supplies, emerging infectious diseases, antimicrobial resistance and climate change.

August 10, 2016

3 Min Read
One Health gearing up to battle 'wicked problems'

Envision the world as three circles representing people, animals and the environment. At the moment, these separate shapes overlap only slightly and share a small space nicknamed the "Ray of Hope for the Future." That ray of hope is One Health, a growing movement that envisions a path to planetary health through One Health education and collaborations. The One Health Commission (OHC) is poised to encourage merging those three circles into one unified, healthy world.

"Collaborations don't just magically happen; they start with relationships," OHC executive director Dr. Cheryl Stroud said. "Relationships don't just magically develop. They start when we come together in direct conversations. This rarely happens in today's systems of silos."

Stroud's Aug. 8 James H. Steele One Health Presentation was one of many sessions about all the faces of One Health during the American Veterinary Medical Assn. (AVMA) Annual Convention in San Antonio, Texas.

One Health is an international conversation among multiple health science professions that is working to provide optimal health and well-being for virtually every organism and its environment on this planet.

"One Health is actually an old concept about different disciplines in environmental, human and animal health working together to address today's 'wicked' problems like unsustainable food supplies, emerging infectious diseases, antimicrobial resistance and climate change," Stroud said. However, "with ever-increasing technology and health professionals becoming more and more specialized, collaborations across the disciplines got lost along the way."

The puzzle pieces began finding each other once again in the early 2000s, when the One Health concept emerged.

OHC was formed in 2009 as a result of a year-long One Health Initiative Task Force partnership between AVMA and the American Medical Assn. Stroud was appointed executive director in 2013.

"The commission operates under the slogan 'Connect. Create. Educate.' and works to enhance collaborations among professionals — from anthropological and environmental to horticultural experts, physicians, public and global health workers and veterinarians — to increase our connectivity to each other," Stroud said.

OHC has joined forces with two leading international groups, the One Health Initiative and One Health Platform, to create an annual global One Health Day. Celebrated for the first time on Nov. 3 this year, many One Health advocate organizations and individuals around the world will be participating in the inaugural event, from students to established professionals in academic, corporate and nonprofit arenas. They will be showcasing One Health projects and special events that can lead to sustaining biodiversity, protecting the planet and saving millions of lives.

Among the commission's other efforts are promoting One Health education and awareness about bat rabies to school-aged children, supporting educational webinars on difficult topics such as antimicrobial resistance and emerging diseases like human Bartonellosis and preparing the next generation of One Health leaders by supporting Students for One Health.

The 2016 AVMA convention featured a plethora of One Health topics, including discussions on Ebola virus and other zoonotic infectious diseases, One Health and disaster preparedness, food security and global health.

Stroud also spoke about global efforts for One Health and provided convention attendees with a sneak peak of the Smithsonian Institute exhibit "Zoonoses & One Health," which will be unveiled in 2018 in Washington, D.C.

"The Smithsonian Institute totally understands the importance of One Health and how it relates to emerging zoonotic diseases such as Ebola, SARS and Zika, to name a few," Stroud said. After its initial stint at the Museum of Natural History, the traveling exhibit will educate the public across the U.S. and, eventually, internationally.

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