Schaumburg, Ill – An initiative dedicated to fighting zoonotic diseases like avian influenza and West Nile virus and improving public health around the world has received a $100,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.
It’s estimated that 75 percent of all new diseases are zoonotic, meaning that they are transferred from animals to humans. The American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) One Health concept is dedicated to tackling new and existing zoonotic diseases with unified, collaborative efforts between veterinary medicine and human medicine, and the environmental sciences.
The Rockefeller Foundation grant to the AVMA will help establish a National One Health Commission and a global One Health Initiative dedicated to attaining optimal human, animal and environmental health through the collaborative efforts of multiple disciplines working locally, nationally, and globally.
“It is very gratifying that the Rockefeller Foundation, which has a long and well-recognized tradition of providing support to those who are tackling the world’s most challenging health issues, has recognized the practical value of funding the creation of the National One Health Commission to lead this global effort,” says Dr. Thomas Monath, M.D., the steering committee representative from the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. “This is the first, and perhaps most important, step in implementing our vision of cooperation and collaboration among health care professions.”
The One Health Initiative began in 2006 as a part of the presidential agenda of then-AVMA president Roger K. Mahr, DVM. A year later, One Health earned an important ally when the American Medical Association (AMA) partnered with the AVMA on the One Health concept. The AMA became an active stakeholder in laying the foundation for and developing the principles of the One Health approach.
“Multiple stakeholder partners have now joined the initial collaborative relationship between the AVMA and AMA,” says Dr. Mahr, who is the project director for the steering committee. “This grant from the Rockefeller Foundation provides an even greater opportunity to ensure the success of this initiative as we strive together to improve the health of people, animals, and our environment worldwide.”
The One Health Joint Steering Committee now has nearly twenty participating member organizations, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Park Service, the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, and the Association of American Medical Colleges.
“The AMA is pleased to be a partner in One Health to work toward creating a stronger partnership between human and veterinary medicine,” says AMA Board Chair Joseph M. Heyman, M.D. “Emerging infectious diseases, with the threats of cross-species transmission and pandemics, represents just one of many reasons why physicians, veterinarians and environmental scientists must work more closely together.”
“The Rockefeller Foundation support for the formation of a One Health Commission recognizes the critical intersection of human, animal, and environmental health and the need for effective collaboration to better global well being,” says Ronald Atlas, Ph.D., representative from the American Society for Microbiology and chair of the steering committee.
By the end of the 2009, the National One Health Commission will be established to lead One Health more autonomously from its founding organizations and begin implementation of the initiative’s four strategic goals. These goals are to:
- develop, implement and sustain an integrated national strategy for improved public health based on the principles of One Health;
- create national and international awareness within the health science professions, the broad scientific community, government institutions, the political leadership, and the general public of the power of One Health to improve the health of people, animals and our environment;
- illustrate the value of implementing One Health through specific demonstration models and projects; and
- extend One Health to the international community to achieve tangible improvements in health worldwide.
The One Health Joint Steering Committee is meeting today in Washington, D.C.
For more information about One Health, including access to the AVMA’s One Health Initiative Task Force Report and other public health and animal health issues, please visit the AVMA at www.avma.org.
The AVMA and its more than 78,000 member veterinarians are engaged in a wide variety of activities dedicated to advancing the science and art of animal, human and public health. Visit the AVMA Web site at www.avma.org for more information.