What is One Health?

What is One Health?

Jul 14, 2020

There is no denying the interconnectivity between the health of humans, animals, and the environment.

Whether we consider infections across species, the state of our environments, and the impact of diseases cross boundaries, global health cannot be separated from public health.

It is within this context that dedicated health professionals, especially veterinarians, continue to examine major issues impacting our world together. This coming together of leaders in veterinary medicine, human medicine, and the environment to create collaborative solutions that will impact our communities is termed, the One Health approach.

The American Veterinary Medicine Association, specifically, defines One Health as “the integrative effort of multiple disciplines working locally, nationally, and globally to attain optimal health for people, animals, and the environment.”

Leading through education and research

Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (Ross Vet) has positioned itself as a thought leader in the foundations of One Health – animal health, human health, and environmental health.

The University opened a research building, the first of its kind in the Caribbean, to facilitate multidisciplinary research collaborations and provide an academic platform for students and faculty to address pressing One Health issues.

“At RUSVM, we recognize the important role veterinarians play in the One Health approach to dealing with societal issues. Keeping humans, animals, and ecosystems healthy always requires veterinarians as public health experts, food safety experts and, monitors and detectors of emerging and re-emerging diseases, while also understanding the deep value of the human-animal bond,” states Ross Vet Dean, Dr. Sean Callanan. 

To further highlight its commitment, the University offers an online-based Master of Science by Coursework in One Health (MSc One Health) degree program that is carefully designed to equip veterinarians, animal scientists, medical, and biological students with an in-depth understanding what is One Health, its core principles, and issues associated with One Health.

The University has gone a step further to launch a graduate Certificate in One Health program in collaboration with Chamberlain College of Nursing. The online Certificate in One Health program provides an in-depth knowledge of One Health concepts that can be applied to enhance careers for veterinary and healthcare professionals, equipping them with the knowledge to make a positive impact.

Upon completion of the program, students are prepared to lead and advocate for issues related to One Health on a global scale.

One Health Examples in Practice

The collaboration is visible in every area of our community.

Public health and natural disasters

For Ross Vet, being located in the Caribbean, we focus much of our attention on best practices for disaster management and prevention efforts. Our One Health approach brings together Veterinarians and Disaster Management leaders from across the region to address community needs and develop protocols so that our communities are supported during hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters.  The Ross Vet Disaster Research Working Group (DRWG) provides expertise in disaster management and disaster-related public health and epidemiology, livestock health and safety, small animal medicine and sheltering, infectious disease, and veterinary education. The group is working to elevate the understanding, knowledge, and capacity to prepare for and respond to disasters, both regionally and globally.

Dr. Christa Gallagher: A Veterinarian's Role in Disaster Management cover image


Zoonotic diseases—human and animal health

When we consider public health diseases such as SARS, Rabies, Ebola, and Chikungunya – these outbreaks show how quickly diseases originating in animals pose a threat to humans.

With these and other emerging animal and zoonotic diseases globally, it remains imperative to be able to rapidly, and accurately recognize, diagnose, and then respond to these diseases.  Animal research leads to breakthroughs in human health.

To elevate the need for research and leverage collective resources, Ross Vet partners with local Ministries of Health, Agriculture and Environment, the Caribbean Animal Health Network (CaribVET), and Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to identify priorities and work towards collective solutions that will impact those in the labs, in the field, and on the frontlines.

Advancing the work in the St. Kitts community

When we consider public health challenges in their entirety—such as zoonosis, antimicrobial resistance, food security, biosafety, infectious diseases, and their impact on humans and the environment, it’s critical that everyone in our communities have a clear understanding of what is one health the interconnectedness and complexity of this issue. The role of public health knowledge and the impact through community outreach cannot be emphasized enough.  To help facilitate community outreach efforts, Ross Vet hosts yearly workshops and fairs in the St. Kitts community to educate the general public about One Health.

One World Health Day cover image


Ross Vet also provides an opportunity for MSc, Ph.D., and DVM students to present a variety of field and bench research from ongoing postgraduate work under each of the four research centers at the University.

Your next steps

The more we think about the human-animal-environment interface, the better we can begin to appreciate the importance of championing the One Health approach. From our community work to course work to our multi-sectoral partnerships, we’re committed to working to keep our environments, people, animals, and economies safe.

Interested? Request more information.

To learn more about the Ross Vet Certificate in One Health, click here.

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