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Strong U.S. Government “One Health” Coordination

August 30, 2016
An element to improving human, animal, and environmental health

The concept of “One Health” recognizes that the health of people, animals, and the environment are linked. Human population expansion and increased global migration have led to significant land-use changes and urbanization, all of which have an impact on the environment and increase the risk of disease transmission between animals and people.

Although increased specialization within scientific disciplines and professions has greatly improved the health and well-being of people and animals, it has also led to silos that impede interdisciplinary communication. Tackling problems at the core of One Health requires equal amounts of “cross-silo” and “within silo” cooperation and collaboration. To address this issue, many leaders are encouraging all levels of government – local, state, and national – to develop efforts that facilitate such interdisciplinary communication.

BIO supports efforts, both legislative and programmatic, to encourage cooperation and collaboration on One Health priorities. Doing so is a national public health priority.

Recent outbreaks of Ebola in West Africa and Zika in the Americas plainly showcase how zoonotic disease episodes can quickly become international crises and national security risks to the United States. We are sure to see more abundant animal to human disease episodes in the future and governments must be ready for them. Encouraging a multidisciplinary and multisector public health policy approach is one smart way for the U.S. to improve its readiness.

During the 114th Congress, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) introduced legislation that, at its heart, seeks to bolster American One Health collaboration efforts so that public health is better able to manage and conquer One Health challenges.

Senator Franken’s bill, S. 2634, the One Health Act of 2016, directs the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to develop a One Health Framework to better coordinate and advance U.S. government One Health activities. This framework would contain recommendations for reinforcing the government’s existing One Health activities and identify goals and priorities for advancing scientific understanding and workforce development in the disciplines that underlie One Health.  S. 2634 also supports important federal One Health focused research.

BIO is especially interested in and supportive of One Health because the tools of biotechnology provide unprecedented opportunities for understanding, solving, and preventing the web of interrelated problems threating the health of people, animals and the environment. That is why One Health was chosen as the theme for the 2016 BIO Animal Biotech Summit.

This year’s Summit will be held on September 21-23, 2016, in Bethesda, Maryland, at the Bethesda Marriott. All Animal Biotech Summit sessions are open to credentialed media who can register here.