January 1, 2010 – A recent summit and an upcoming study will help the One Health Commission and other advocates of the one-health concept in developing policies and initiatives to increase collaboration among the fields of human, animal, and ecosystem health.
The One Health Commission held the Nov. 17 One Health Summit in Washington, D.C., in partnership with two arms of the National Academies—the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council. At the summit, the Institute of Medicine formally announced its intent to conduct a study that will shape the one-health vision.
Health experts convened the summit to raise awareness of the importance of transcending institutional and disciplinary boundaries to improve health for all species. The half-day summit attracted about 150 attendees representing government, academia, scientific associations and institutions, the private sector, and the military.
“I am pleased that the One Health Commission chose to have their One Health Summit in Washington, D.C.,” said Dr. Mark T. Lutschaunig, director of the AVMA Governmental Relations Division. “It is imperative that we educate policymakers about the one-health initiative, especially when Congress is considering legislation that would overhaul our health care system.”
The summit’s keynote speaker was Doug O’Brien, JD, senior adviser to the U.S. agriculture secretary. “As we combat global pandemics such as H1N1 influenza, it is imperative that health science professions, academia, government agencies, and nongovernmental organizations act in unison across the human, animal, and ecosystem sciences,” O’Brien said.
The summit’s other speakers addressed topics such as emerging zoonoses, wildlife disease, and workforce issues. Speakers included Rear Adm. Ali Khan, MD, acting director of the National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne, and Enteric Disease at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Joshua Sharfstein, MD, principal deputy commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration; and Allen Dearry, PhD, an associate director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Among the veterinarians who spoke were Dr. Karen Marie Becker, senior veterinary public health adviser for the Africa Bureau of the U.S. Agency for International Development, and Dr. Elizabeth A. Lautner, director of the National Veterinary Services Laboratories.
The forthcoming Institute of Medicine study will examine the interdependencies of human, animal, and ecosystem health and assess the potential value of a collaborative approach toward improving health worldwide. The results of the study will inform development of a strategic roadmap for policies and initiatives to implement the one-health approach. The Institute of Medicine plans to start the study early this year, pending the acquisition of sufficient funding.
“The Institute of Medicine study will afford the opportunity to develop an evidence-based rationale for ‘one health’ and offer recommendations to guide the implementation of ‘one health,’ both domestically and internationally,” said Dr. Roger K. Mahr, chief executive officer of the One Health Commission.
An audio recording of the One Health Summit is available at www.nationalacademies.org/newsroom. Slides from some of the presentations are at www.onehealthcommission.org/summit-agenda.html.