U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


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Published in New Directions in Conservation Medicine: Applied Cases in Ecological Health, edited by A. Alonso Aguirre, Richard S. Ostfield, and Peter Daszak (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).


U.S. Government Work


In recognition that the health of humans, animals, and the environment is linked, One Health seeks to increase communication and collaboration across the disciplines in order to promote, improve, and defend the health of all species on the planet. This strategy may seem simple, but unfortunately it will not be easy to implement. The explosion of medical knowledge in the 20th century led to academic, governmental, and industrial silos of specialization; these silos fostered a compartmentalized approach to health and disease. Building bridges across these silos will require leadership, joint educational programs, financial support, and other strategies that promote transdisciplinary efforts.

Before the 20th century, physicians typically worked with veterinary medical colleagues and others to improve the health of humans and animals. This chapter will describe the historical developments in medicine and veterinary medicine leading to the current status quo. It will provide examples of why the status quo is problematic and will highlight the challenges in changing the present paradigm. It will conclude with recommendations on how to implement a One Health approach in the future.

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