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'One Health' paradigm for the future featured in medical school textbook

New York (May 16, 2013) In the new medical textbook, Jekel's Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Preventive Medicine, and Public Health (Elsevier, 2013), Wildlife Conservation Society veterinarian and Director of Health Policy, Dr. Steve Osofsky, offers a holistic approach to meeting challenges that result from humanity's ongoing population growth, globalization trends, and unsustainable demand for earth's finite natural resources.

As the human population grows and becomes more interconnected, there is increased need for land, food, water and energy. These pressures have implications for health, economies and the environment that sustains us all. Dr. Osofsky and his co-author Dr. Meredith A. Barrett, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar at UC San Francisco and UC Berkeley, point out that too often in today's world individual disciplines related to the environment, climate, human behavior, food and agriculture, and economic development function largely in isolation. Their chapter is called One Health: Interdependence of People, Other Species, and the Planet.

Instead, argue the authors, we need a cooperative "One Health" approach that brings multiple disciplines together to work locally, nationally, and globally. Only through proactive collaboration among sectors and disciplines, they say, can humanity adequately address growing needs without compromising optimal health outcomes for people, domestic animals, wildlife, and the environment. Dr. Osofsky and the Wildlife Conservation Society originally helped launch the One Health concept a decade ago.

The One Health approach calls for a paradigm shift in developing, implementing and sustaining health and environmental policies that more proactively engage human medicine, veterinary medicine, public health, environmental sciences and a wide range of other disciplines that relate to health, land use and the sustainability of human interactions with the environment.

This approach facilitates an "upstream" focus on providing solutions to problems such as zoonotic disease (diseases that move between animals and humans) before they occur. The goal is to synergistically link environmental stewardship and the health sciences so as to be able to, for example, preclude emerging disease outbreaks often associated with environmental perturbation, or to better recognize and proactively quantify the costs of various types of pollution on human, animal and ecosystem health.

One Health encourages the open exchange of information among professions to improve response times and efficiency when complex public health problems do arise, to strengthen conservation and related education efforts, and to enhance preventive options and opportunities through interdisciplinary research and collaboration.

Drs. Barrett and Osofsky's chapter presents a much-needed paradigm for the next generation of what they hope will be "One Health practitioners."

"This book chapter was written specifically to encourage medical students early-on in their careers to think more holistically about the profession they are embarking upon," said Dr. Osofsky.

"We are thrilled to contribute this material so that one of the most widely used public health texts in North American medical schools will, for the first time, offer a One Health perspective," added Dr. Barrett.


Contact: Scott Smith
Wildlife Conservation Society

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