Dr. Tracy King CSC, MRSB – Research and Outreach Manager, Humane Trust:
A drug is described by many different people as many different things. The UK charity that runs One Medicine – the Humane Trust – defines it as a collaboration between veterinarians, doctors and researchers so that all humans and animals benefit from equitable and sustainable medical advances, but without the loss of an animal’s life. Not on price.
Its aims and objectives are often confused with other related concepts such as One Health. Although these words are not synonymous with each other, they can learn from the other and contribute to development because of their common interests.
The kaleidoscope of the lens through which One Medicine is currently viewed is one of the themes that came out of the Human Trust’s One Medicine Day virtual seminar in May this year.
Titled ‘Stronger Together’ following last year’s inaugural symposium, this year’s theme was ‘One Medicine in Action – Awareness, Collaboration and Change’, which created an opportunity for human and animal health professionals to share examples of connected approaches. be provided. Discuss ways to raise greater awareness of the benefits of multi-disciplinary collaboration, and how to communicate the benefits of change to different audiences.
In his quest for what One Medicine looks like in today’s world, Professor Roberto La Ragione, Chair of the Trustees of the Humane Trust, ponders its origins. He acknowledged those who had previously identified connections, similarities and synergies between human and veterinary medicine, such as Rudolf Virchow, Sir William Osler, Dr. Calvin Schwabe and Lord Lawson Solsby.
It was in history that the trust’s founder, Professor Noel Fitzpatrick, came upon the term used for this notion of human and veterinary medicine – a therapy. As a veterinarian, he had personally experienced the silos that existed between two medical disciplines. To change this status quo, they decided to create a platform for all species to bring them together for equal and mutual benefit and hence Human Trust was formed in 2014.
The founder and CEO of OneHealth Lessons, Dr. Deborah Thomson, exemplifies what it looks like to get into action through her true story about Jack, the son of a family friend who was obsessed with cats and football. At age 12, Jack developed clinical signs of abdominal pain and headache, beginning more than 30 visits to several different doctors to receive a diagnosis. Over the next two years, his condition deteriorated so much that he was in a wheelchair.
Eventually, Jack was exposed to an interdisciplinary team that included a physician and a vet. The latter asked if anything out of the ordinary had happened before Jack’s first clinical signs. It turns out that Jack was playing with a stray kitten who had a flea infestation and accidentally scratched him during the conversation. Through the collaboration, this interdisciplinary team was able to conclude that Jack Bartonella had been exposed to a bacterial infection or cat scratch fever and the physician was able to prescribe the correct antibiotic treatment. This is a great example of how a collaborative approach saves lives.
The pediatric surgeon, Miss Anna Radford, describes the common challenges faced by human and veterinary urologists while treating their respective patients, also highlighting the mutual benefits of collaborative work and knowledge sharing. The difficulty of obtaining an accurate medical history means that both medical professions need to take a holistic approach looking beyond the patient, their wider family and environment.
Dr Simon Doherty, Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Global Food Security, Queen’s University Belfast, reminded delegates that the interface between human and animal health does not stop at companion animals, but equally applies to other animal groups such as farm animals. There are. He emphasized that we all need to recognize how the health and welfare of people and animals are inextricably linked. After all, 75 percent of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic and many arise as a result of human behavior at the animal-human environmental interface. COVID-19 is a prime example of this and it also shows how generic terms in relation to farm animals have crossed over into everyday language in relation to farm animals since the pandemic, such as herd immunity, PCR/lateral flow and R numbers. .
The work, described by the British Society for Immunology as its CEO and final guest speaker, Dr. Doug Brown, is a great example of the power of collaboration in effecting positive change. Their ability to bring together all areas of immunological expertise (spanning different fields, disciplines and career stages) and to quickly mobilize their members in response to a major global health challenge is particularly inspiring.
It is clear from these (and many other) examples that when humans and veterinarians and scientists come together, good things happen. But how can we raise more awareness about the benefits of One Medicine? I firmly believe that we need to recalculate its meaning and introduce a definition that incorporates the historical elements of the similarities in the two medical disciplines and the benefits of collaboration. But crucially, we must ensure that human values prevail by applying the principle of reciprocity, so that not only physicians and allied researchers benefit, but also patients, regardless of species.
This is a message promoted by the Humane Trust and a message that the Trust and its broader One Medicine community need to communicate. If these conversations don’t exist, we must create them, but to do so, we need the skills to effectively articulate and communicate the science behind One Medicine to a diverse audience.
Opportunities need to become more regularly available for medical professionals and researchers to come together informally and formally. With this in mind, the Humane Trust launched the Humane Hub in February 2020, an opportunity for all human and veterinary and veterinary professionals to meet, collaborate, share knowledge and undertake research for the benefit of both humans and animals. It is a free online platform for
While still in its infancy, the Hub has already provided a much-needed virtual space to make connections and initiate conversations, which we actively seek to nurture. For example, one of our aforementioned guest speakers, Miss Anna Radford, was looking to collaborate with an individual or group in veterinary medicine with a specialty in urinary tract or kidney problems and/or antimicrobial resistance. Through the Hub, we were able to identify a suitable professional and as a result, an interdisciplinary group has been established to identify common urological conditions affecting both companion animals and humans.
There is an urgent need to create opportunities for human medical students to meet their veterinary counterparts before they enter increasingly smaller silos and become enveloped in bubbles of their own. Ways to burst such bubbles also have to be found – can we break down a drug into smaller, achievable steps by bringing it into daily practice? Can we provide resources and checklists to human and veterinary professionals and allied researchers? It can be as simple as inviting your counterpart over for a chat over a drink to share challenges and ideas.
But even before that, we have to find a way to arouse interest in the similarities between humans and animals among children and young people from an early age. Only then will we be able to achieve a lasting change in the mindset and expectations of our future generations.
Ultimately, to address the health challenges facing both humans and animals, we will need all the tools in a toolbox with an agile approach, strong public policy and funding. If we can harness the collaborative power of One Medicine, together we can build a society where reciprocity is understood and embraced, human values prevail and the scientific and legal need for experimental animal testing is obsolete.