In recent years, the One Health movement has gathered significant momentum worldwide, and for good reason. One Health is a global strategy, integrating the effort of multiple disciplines to attain optimal health for people, animals and the environment. These three entities make up the One Health triad, with the health of each intricately connected to the others. This collaborative, coordinated approach between sectors hence targets potential and existing health hazards that originate at the animal-human-environment interface, holding strong prospectives for healthcare advancements in human and animal medical fields.
Todays quick growing population vastly increases the interconnection between people, animals, and our environment. Subsequently, our population is expanding geographically, increasing the contact between human and wild animal habitats. This introduces the risk of exposure to new viruses, bacteria and other disease-causing pathogens. The human-animal bond also continues to grow throughout societies, with more people spending time with, and coming into contact with animals. Furthermore, the interdependency between the health of humans, animals, and the environment can be seen through the many emerging diseases society faces on a global scale today. These are either zoonotic (spread between humans and animals) or vector-borne (carried from infected animals to others through insects). As a result to all this, the One Health approach has been formally endorsed by global organizations and bodies, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization(FAO), World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), and many others.
Healthcare Students involvement in the One Health Concept is an extremely worthy pursuit as it provides students with an array of benefits at the personal, institutional and national level. It also positively and holistically contributes to the development of the community. As healthcare students from three different fields (medicine, veterinary and pharmacy), we highly acknowledge how this concept is related to all of us, and the importance for all of us to understand and work on its implementation as healthcare professionals of the near future.
Our efforts in public health have recently gained steam, especially in the One Health Concept. The three leading youth organizations: the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), the International Veterinary Students Association (IVSA) and the International Pharmaceutical Students Federation (IPSF), recognize that our efforts are not disconnected, but rather are they joined in a mutually beneficial multidisciplinary collaboration in One Health. We have previously collaborated in many fields of One Health including: Antimicrobial Resistance, World rabies day, and World TB day. Our efforts extended from awareness manuals, toolkits, online campaigns to research and joint official statements in several WHO meetings. Our role as student representatives imposed on us the responsibility to spread awareness and establish this valuable concept among our communities. We encourage our members, from all over the world, to target this issue and to spread awareness about it; as once it starts from the student level, it would ensure the strength of bonds and understanding between the next generation of healthcare professions.
IVSA – The International Veterinary Students Association connects veterinary students from all over the globe, with the mission: To benefit the animals and people of the world by harnessing the potential and dedication of veterinary students to promote the international application of veterinary skills, education and knowledge. IVSA represents over 30.000 students in more than 50 countries.
Veterinary medicine can no longer be viewed as a profession only dealing with animals, as it inevitably encompasses all three aspects of One Health within its scope of study.
The organization gets involved in big projects and global events, such as World Rabies Day, Stop Tuberculosis Day, and Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Day, all of which have a strong One Health significance, and veterinary field involvement.
IFMSA – The International Federation of Medical Students Associations represents, connects and engages every day with an inspiring network of 1.3 million medical students in 122 countries around the globe, with the vision: A world in which all medical students unite for global health and are equipped with the knowledge, skills and values to take on health leadership roles locally and globally.
Human medicine is inextricably related to animal health and production. Therefore, IFMSA has been strongly advocating nationally and globally to attain the optimal health for human, animal and the environment. IFMSA established a program on Communicable Diseases, which is focusing on Antimicrobial Resistance through awareness and research. In addition, IFMSA was actively involved in World Rabies Day, Stop Tuberculosis Day and the Global Conference on One health. We strongly believe that the One Health approach is necessary for improving the lives of all species -human and animal.
IPSF – The International Pharmaceutical Students Federation represents over 313,000 pharmacy students and recent pharmacy graduates from over 80 countries. In collaboration with IFMSA and IVSA, IPSF has been involved with the One Health topic for the past few years. When we approach the concept of One Health, we can easily see how pharmacy/ pharmaceutical sciences can play a role in the multiple disciplines related to peoples health, animal health, and environment. These can go from pharmaceutical research, passing by rational use of drugs and ending on the sound management of chemicals. Our education and background allows us to be able to act on different levels of intervention and on cross cutting issues among the sectors.
Although there have been demonstrated evidence of the benefices of One Health, the potential of this field has not been sufficiently explored. The approaches of One Health used on public and ecological health produce great outcomes and added value due to the focus on surveillance and upstream interventions. Still, the barriers to achieve a comprehensive One health approach are daunting. Disciplines such as education, research, diagnostics and surveillance, tackling with human medicine, veterinary medicine, and environmental health exist and have been developed during years and centuries. However, the gap between the different disciplines within the different sectors is high and the exchange of knowledge and experience is limited.
As students, we see these barriers as an opportunity for collaboration. The key for the future lies in tackling each one of the disciplines with a joint approach of the different fields.
The three organizations aim to include One Health as an integring part of their activities and promote this field among their partners and members, while advocating for an increased focus on the One Health approach.