By Lynn Lauterbach, BS
Science teacher and curriculum coordinator
Loveland, Colorado (USA)
I’ve heard it said that “none of us are as smart as all of us.” My role as a teacher reinforces this each day in the triumphs of successful moments and the failures when cooperation falls short. Additionally, this statement seems to ring true when we look at people historically who have risen up and worked together to advance their cultures…the Egyptians, the Aztecs, the success story that rid the globe of smallpox in the 70s, and the worldwide effort to solve the mysteries of the human genome. It seems that history has a chance to repeat itself if the “One Health” initiative continues making progress. This 21st century movement is a global strategy for expanding collaborations and communications in all types of health care encompassing humans, animals, and the environment. The power of working together across many fields of medicine and among countries will advance research discoveries, enhance public health effectiveness, expand the scientific knowledge base, and improve medical education and clinical care. Indeed, if all health providers join in a cohesive effort toward a common goal, it will help protect and save untold millions of lives presently and in the future. So, what needs to happen to insure that upcoming generations embrace and support the importance of One Health? What do my students need to understand about this effort?
As I watch individuals in my classroom try to agree on the methods they will use to solve their class projects, I am reminded of the challenges of working together. For that matter, just remembering the discussion among my four children as to which restaurant the family should go to for dinner is a reminder of differences. So, the issue of bringing many groups together worldwide to agree on a plan takes on new complexity. But this is just what One Health is doing. And it seems to be working.
Educators have a unique opportunity to introduce students to the concept of One Health and get these future physicians, veterinarians, public health leaders, ecologists, microbiologists, and so forth, to grasp the vision of what a unified effort can achieve. Teaching students that emerging diseases are a reality, as are new solutions to these issues, helps them understand that these health challenges don’t just happen “somewhere” else. Q fever, hantaviruses, SARS, West Nile, cholera, malaria…these diseases are current issues. Changing climates are possibly affecting distribution patterns of some diseases, so ecology experts are needed to work together with researchers seeking causes and cures, who then work together with public health officials to communicate prevention and treatment plans which are passed along to physicians who carry out the treatments.
But, just like in classrooms, overcoming the challenges of working together toward a common goal and using the strengths of each contributor can result in great things. As an educator, introducing students to the idea of the One Health initiative is a powerful way to instill the belief of what can be accomplished if this effort continues to be supported. Indeed, worldwide health will benefit from the idea that “none of us are as smart as all of us.”
Note: Lynn Lauterbach contributed to an important One Health Medmyst Magazine issue which was supported by a grant from the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health (USA). She was part of a dedicated group of professionals in developing these One Health materials with especially helpful guidance for that edition.
‘MedMyst Magazine’ http://medmyst.rice.edu is an important unique Educational Publication to assist young people with their early education. It is produced by Rice University, – Center for Technology and learning – Galveston, Texas (USA).
Comment from Editor: “We really do need to engage young people in the One Health movement… after all, they will be leading our future generations.”
For more information contact:
Kimberly Schuenke, PhD
Associate Director, Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Program
Administrator Western Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Research
The University of Texas Medical Branch 1.104D Keiller Bldg.
Dept. of Pathology
915 Strand St.
Galveston, TX 77555-0609 (USA)
Leslie M. Miller, PhD
Senior Research Scholar
MedMyst III: Infectious Disease Materials for Middle School Students
Houston, Texas 77005-1827 (USA)