One World – One Health: Labs Protecting the World’s Health
Are you ready to participate in a “One Health Collaboratory?”
At the opening session of the 2012 APHL Annual Meeting, James Hughes, MD, Emory University; Lisa Conti, DVM, MPH, One Health Solutions; and Terry F. McElwain, DVM, PhD, Washington State University, examined the implications of the One Health concept for governmental health laboratories. One Health posits that growing connections between humans, animals and ecosystems require integration across national borders, academic disciplines and health systems. Though One Health is not a new concept — Hippocrates introduced the idea that public health depends on a clean environment — it is a relatively new as an initiative.
Below are key points from the session. Visit our website to view the speakers’ PowerPoint presentations.
- Laboratories are at the hub of human, animal and environmental health because of their role as data providers. They can – if they choose – play a pivotal role in building trans-disciplinary partnerships to protect global health. The biggest challenges will be cultural, not technical. We must reach across disciplines to build partnerships.
- One Health offers a systems approach that can reinforce existing efforts to link laboratories. For example, the FERN and LRN networks both include animal labs.
- Disease in animals can serve as a sentinel for human disease. Animals are more than vectors of disease; they share our susceptibility to specific diseases and environmental hazards.
- “Smart surveillance,” using data from all available sources both governmental and commercial, can lead to improved health outcomes. Pork producers, for example, maintain detailed records of potential value in disease surveillance.
- Building laboratory capability/capacity in under-resourced countries is integral to strengthening health security in the US. Microbes know no borders; no part of the world is immune from emerging and reemerging diseases.
- 2.7 billion people on the planet live on less than $2 per day. For them, livestock are the primary source of labor, fertilizer, food and income. Public health practitioners must weigh the economic impact of animal diseases in shaping health interventions.
“Efficiency” – The New Buzz Word
The discussion on the Laboratory Efficiencies Initiative (LEI) drew a standing-room-only crowd of lab leaders eager to hear more about this hot topic. Co-sponsored by CDC and APHL, the LEI is a significant effort to help lab directors deal with intense budget pressures and other change factors. The main goal of the partnership is to ensure labs achieve long-term sustainability through higher operating efficiencies.
One potential practice for laboratory efficiency is consolidation and shared testing services. Three lab leaders, joined by a representative from CDC, described their approaches to these innovative practices. One speaker, Christine Bean, PhD, MBA, MT (ASCP), of the New Hampshire Public Health Laboratory, talked about their lab’s consolidation with the state’s environmental lab, in an effort to reduce the state’s budget by 2.6 million. Before the merger could happen, PHL leadership assessed duplication of services and testing, as well as potential gaps, as part of their efficiency objectives. While they continue to address culture differences between the agencies and some employees are resistant to change, the merger has been positive. The newly consolidated lab has seen enhanced opportunities for federal funding and are planning to take on new test methods, like molecular water testing.
@chrisnmangal “Vision means applying care and concern we give to jobs on a daily basis with eye to the future.” Executive Director, Scott Becker #APHL
@go_vikes We need to shift our view of the more classic “public health” lab to encompass forensic, vet and other types of laboratories. #APHL
@sharishea23 FERN initiated a response to 2011 radiation release in Japan. Calming public fears and providing credible website were first prioities #aphl
@meganlatshaw Studies show that you can distinguish kids who are treated kindly vs those abused by looking at epigentic markers – Ken Olden at #APHL
See more top tweets here!
Other Annual Meeting blog posts:
- APHL Annual Meeting Day 1
- Welcome to Washyourhandsington!
- One World. One Health… and the Vector at Our Back Door