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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Animal & Veterinary

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Dr. Dunham Supports AVMA/AMA “One Health” Initiative

FDA Veterinarian Newsletter 2007 Volume XXII, No IV

Dr. Bernadette Dunham, Deputy Director of the Center for Veterinary Medicine, is a strong proponent of the initiative called “One Health,” aimed at developing more collaboration and communication between human and veterinary medicine.

The concept behind the One Health initiative is not new (it was first articulated in the 19th Century), but it gained increased attention as the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates voted in June to approve a resolution to support it, and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) in July at its annual convention named members to a One Health Initiative Task Force. AVMA had endorsed the concept earlier.

Dr. Roger Mahr, Immediate Past President of the AVMA, made the One Health initiative his top priority during his presidency (2006-2007). It was his recommendation to establish the task force.

According to an AVMA press release, the task force was given the job of “articulating a vision of One Health that will enhance the integration of animal, human, and environmental health for the mutual benefit of all.”

The One Health initiative addresses the significance of zoonotic diseases. The most obvious zoonotic diseases are variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, West Nile virus, avian influenza, rabies, and salmonellosis. But many other diseases can move between humans and animals. Approximately 60 percent of all infectious agents of humans are zoonotic, according to experts. In addition, 75 percent of emerging human diseases seen in the past 25 years have been zoonotic, AVMA’s Dr. Mahr stated during the group’s annual conference in July.

The leading advocates of the initiative are Dr. Laura H. Kahn, a physician on the research staff of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University; Dr. Bruce Kaplan, a veterinarian in Sarasota, FL, and previously with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service; and Dr. Thomas P. Monath, a physician previously with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Fort Collins, CO) and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (Fort Detrick, MD), and currently with the investment firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Menlo Park, CA.

They have drafted this One Health mission statement:

“Recognizing that human and animal health are inextricably linked, One Health seeks to promote, improve, and defend the health and well-being of all species by enhancing cooperation and collaboration between physicians and veterinarians, and by promoting strengths in leadership and management to achieve these goals.”

The initiative seeks increased educational opportunities between human and veterinary medical schools, more communications, and more cross-species disease surveillance, as well as other coordination.

Dr. Kaplan is collecting statements of support for the One Health initiative. Dr. Dunham, who has had veterinary clinical experience as well as human and veterinary research experience, sent him this statement of support:

“Sir William Osler, M.D. (1849-1919) promoted the philosophy of ‘one medicine.’ How exciting to witness, in 2007, the official adoption of the ‘One Health’ initiative by both the AMA and the AVMA!! Through mutual collaborations—clinical and research experiences—veterinarians and physicians can accomplish so much more together to advance the health of humans and animals. Today, we truly live in a global village where people, animals, and microbes all travel. So, it is even more imperative that we all embrace the One Health initiative. I look forward to joining my colleagues in a multidisciplinary approach as we address the global health needs of humans, animals, and their environment.”

Others who have sent testimonials supporting the One Health Initiative include Major General Gale S. Pollock, Acting, Surgeon General, U.S. Army; and former U.S. Senator Bill Frist, MD. Dr. Kaplan is continuing to collect testimonials.