Exclusive Report to One Health Initiative website June 13, 2013...
Update on One Health in Australia
Following the 2011 1st International Conference on One Health in Australia, there was a lot of energy and enthusiasm to develop further the one health concepts and to operationalize activities. In reality this has not materialized into significant tangible outcomes although these are still of considerable interest to adopt as one health approach(s) when appropriate. The best example in Australia has probably been the response to Hendra outbreaks in horses and humans.
A Hendra Task Force established in 2011 comprising experts from human health, animal health, wildlife management and the social sciences worked together to tackle the various issues around Hendra risk management. Today we now have a horse vaccine available to horse owners, treatment regimes for managing high exposure cases in humans, an understanding of the low risks associated with bat colony dispersal and a greater understanding of infections in other species, including dogs. All this could not have been achieved without adopting a one health approach to both the research and policy development on Hendra.
Several peak bodies such as the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) and Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) have established Special Interest Groups (SIG), with the underlying objective to promote the uptake of a one health approach across Australia. The PHAA One Health SIG has a strong membership and at present has a focus on developing appropriate post-graduate training to develop a cadre of one health “graduates” for Australia. Other areas for focus include a strengthened approach to cross sectoral collaboration; building the evidence base for one health approaches through research and development; supporting policy setting and implementation, including legislative reform; and building on communication, media engagement and public awareness.
Recognizing the importance of one health the Commonwealth Government of Australia through the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has established a small Division of One Health. Still in its infancy, this Division serves to utilize a one health approach whenever possible and specifically when dealing with zoonotic disease management, antibiotic resistance and emerging diseases of wildlife.
One specific area of concern has been the need to manage issues around food safety and the development of antibiotic resistance. In both cases considerable cross sector discussion and dialogue has occurred with in a number of cases, a strong one health approach being adopted to further mitigate risks in these areas.
Given the ever increasing risk from new and emerging diseases and driven currently by the threats associated either the H7N9 influenza virus circulating in poultry in China, there is an increasing desire to establish a “CDC” like structure in Australia. Earlier this year the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health and Ageing undertook a study on “Diseases have no borders” with a focus on the appropriateness of a CDC structure in Australia. It recommended that a review be undertaken to consider this further. In terms of a one health approach to research, the Geelong Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases (GCEID) was established in 2012. As a partnership between the Australian Animal Health Laboratory, the Medical Faculty of Deakin University and Barwon Health (the health service provider in western Victoria) it takes a one health approach to undertaking research on a range of emerging infectious diseases. Similar centers have been established in the States of Queensland and New South Wales providing the bases for the Australian Centers for Emerging Infectious Diseases (ACEID).
Finally, it has been agreed to hold the fourth International Congress on One Health in Melbourne in December 2016. This will follow on from the 3rd Congress being held in early 2015 in Holland. It is hoped that the meeting in Melbourne will be held jointly with the 2016 biennial meeting of Eco Health to give an even broader flavor to the one health initiative.
*Professor Martyn Jeggo (Deakin University)
**Professor John MacKenzie (Curtin University)
*Dr. Jeggo [BVetMed, PhD] is currently Director, Geelong Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases at Australia’s Deakin University Medical School, Melbourne, Australia and serves on the One Health Initiative Autonomous pro bone team’s Honorary Advisory Board http://www.onehealthinitiative.com/advBoard.php.
**Dr. MacKenzie [PhD, FASM] is currently Research Associate, Faculty of Health Sciences at Australia’s Curtin University and a recognized leader in the One Health movement being a strong supporter/advocate of One Health http://www.onehealthinitiative.com/supporters.php.