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One Health Approach To Tracking Potential Disease Outbreaks Could Improve Returns On Investments

The Conversation: What’s needed to do a better job of pre-empting disease outbreaks
William B. Karesh, executive vice president for health and policy at EcoHealth Alliance and adjunct professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

“The concept of One Health is deceptively simple: it’s the recognition that human, animal, and environmental health are all inherently linked. … Taking on health issues from different angles simultaneously has the benefit of saving time, money, and lives, rather than addressing a challenge in one area only to later find it emerge in another. … Research coordinated by EcoHealth Alliance, a global environmental health organization, set out to show how we can better anticipate disease outbreaks by joining forces. … Our research found that by tracking a disease with a combined, One Health approach, we could get a bigger, more accurate picture of the way it was spreading. … Our research in the field also found that a One Health approach saved up to 35 percent in spending on staffing and resources when compared to conducting separate surveillance or studies. … We can be better prepared to tackle diseases before they take hold and avoid the devastating consequences, but only if environmental scientists, veterinarians, and doctors work together and with the public. This is no easy or inexpensive task but our findings indicate that the returns on investment are manifold, for all of us who share one health” (10/18).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.