almost 12 DAYS TO GO….

Now, this is a question that the 3rd November attempts to answer.  Truth is though, the true definition is rather elusive.  Depending on who you are, you may be convinced that you are right, but there is often someone else with a slightly different angle…and this, I think, is a characteristic of ‘One Health’.

I’m not going to attempt a definition here – Google is better at that, than I am.  But I will try to illustrate what I understand One Health to be.

I come from a family of six.  Mom and dad, older sister, twin brother and little brother.  My little brother is studying art, my twin is a GIS (geographical information systems) specialist with postgrad experience in the Tourism/GIS field.  My sister is a human doctor that later specialized in burns surgery and now is responsible for burns education and outreach.  My dad is an advocate, senior council, and my mom is our full time mom. I, of course, am a veterinary epidemiologist.

Sometimes, I really wonder how we all managed to live in the same house for nineteen years of my life.  When I see how different each one of us are, it is a miracle that we can even have a conversation. And yet, we do.  It’s the most peculiar thing… Despite the great diversity in personality, skills, experience and beliefs, when we get together over the dinner table, we tend to complement each others stories.

I have often wondered why this is so.  Recently, I realized it is because in one way or the other each one of us want the world to be a better place.  And each person in my family, works toward that end.  My dad fights for righteousness and justice, my mom fights for harmony, my sister fights to protect the innocent, my twin fights to capacitate the local community, my little brother fights to give the underdog a voice, and I will fight for each person to attain self actualization.  In one way or the other, if anyone had to add the six of us up, it would equal to ONE effort toward a better world.

Given this background, it isn’t too hard to shift into understanding that HEALTH is a vision that many different people, skilled in many different disciplines, gaze upon from their own unique vantage points.

One Health is a collaborative action of multiple disciplines to balance the interaction between humans, animals and the environment in order to achieve an overall healthy status.  This isn’t just the absence of disease, but rather a fundamental ‘wholeness’, where humans, animals and the environment is flourishing optimally.

In other words, it’s like Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.  If Adam and Eve were sick, who would manage the garden? If the garden was sick, what would Adam and Eve eat? If the animals were sick, who would be mowing the grass and trimming the leaves and shrubs? Adam can’t do EVERYTHING!

One Health is not an easy field to be in.  By definition, it means working with people who are not really like you.  And differences between people is sometimes tough to manage.  But, is the drama of different personalities worth it?

Yes.  Because you as an individual will never be able to achieve what is possible if you combined your unique skill and experience with that of another individual.  It is a challenge.  It is not for the faint hearted.  But it IS worth pursuing and persevering despite differences, because one day, when we are all sitting at one table and if someone had to do the math, it WOULD all equal to ONE effort toward a better, HEALTHIER world.