The One Health Journey: Personal Epiphanies & the History of One Health

This week we were privileged to hear from Cheryl Stroud, DVM, PhD, and Rear Admiral William Stokes, DVM, DACLAM, on their personal journeys to an awareness of One Health and on the history of One Health itself.
Dr. Cheryl Stroud opened with a quote from Robert Virchow: “between animal and human medicine there are no dividing lines – nor should there be.” She went on to describe her experience of growing up on a hobby farm and becoming a veterinarian, but only realizing the importance of One Health as various members of her family dealt with undiagnosed zoonoses. She noted that the veterinarian’s oath includes “promotion of public health,” a commitment that leads directly to a One Health view. While specialization is important and has led to many advances in all areas of health, it is also crucial to maintain enough of a generalist view to be able to deal with or appropriately refer issues that would be outside a practitioner’s usual scope. Dr. Stroud also gave a brief overview of the history of One Health, from Rudolph Virchow’s origination of the term “zoonosis” to the more recent tendency towards specialization and then back towards One Health with the establishment of the North Carolina One Medicine Symposium in 2000.
Rear Admiral William Stokes shared his personal journey, from growing up on a farm and wanting to be a veterinarian to his current position as Assistant Surgeon General and Rear Admiral in the U. S. Public Health Service and director of the National Toxicology Program. Dr. Stokes spoke of the impact Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring had on sparking in him an interest in ecological health and described his career path as a veterinarian for the U.S. Army and then the U.S. Public Health Service. He advised his listeners to always be ready to do whatever is needed in a given situation. Dr. Stokes stressed that One Health should be viewed not only as a public health concept but should embrace research, clinical practice, and education. He recommended the 2011 National Prevention Strategy: America’s Plan for Better Health and Wellness as a valuable resource.
During the question and answer period, the discussion turned towards the problem of silos within silos—even just within the field of human medicine there is fragmentation with different healthcare practitioners, such as doctors, nurses, and physical therapists, not always working effectively together. One Health provides an excellent framework for greater collaboration both between and within human, animal and environmental health.
Up next (January 24): Peter Radke and Magda Radke speaking on The Neem Tree: Nature’s Bio-Defense at its Best and Erin Lindquist addressing Tropical Forest Regeneration in Costa Rica.
Post authored by: Esther Giezendanner UNC MPH candidate

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