AMA adopts one-health policy

Physicians' association supports ties with AVMA
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The one-health movement continues to gain momentum after the American Medical Association adopted a policy advocating for closer ties between human and veterinary medicine.

The one-health resolution, passed June 24 during the annual meeting of the AMA House of Delegates in Chicago, calls for more educational and research collaborations between the two professions to help with the assessment, treatment, and prevention of cross-species disease transmission.

Dr. Roger K. Mahr

Additionally, the resolution encourages the national association of physicians to dialogue with the AVMA to discuss strategies for enhancing collaboration between the medical and veterinary medical professions in medical education, clinical care, public health, and biomedical research.

"Many infectious diseases can infect both humans and animals," said AMA board member, Duane M. Cady, MD, in a statement. "New infections continue to emerge and with threats of cross-species disease transmission and pandemics in our global health environment, the time has come for the human and veterinary medical professions to work closer together for the greater protection of the public health in the 21st century."

The resolution was submitted by the American College of Preventive Medicine, American College of Occupational and Environmental Health, American Association of Public Health Physicians, and the Academy of Pharmaceutical Physicians and Investigators.

Julie L. Gerberding, MD, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) called the AMA resolution "fantastic news."

"I am sure I speak for all of CDC in voicing my complete enthusiasm and support for the one-health initiative. I appreciate the leadership that the AMA and AVMA are providing in creating this powerful network of health protection," Dr. Gerberding said.

An article appearing in the June 15 issue of Science magazine examined the burgeoning one-health movement, noting the AVMA and AMA initiatives.

The one-health concept is not new. In the 1960s, veterinary epidemiologist and parasitologist Dr. Calvin Schwabe coined the phrase "one medicine" and called for a unified approach between veterinary and human medicine to combat zoonotic diseases.

The AMA resolution marks a growing trend among certain sectors in government, academia, and professional organizations promoting the public health role of veterinarians. For instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention selected a veterinarian, Dr. Lonnie J. King, to head up the agency's National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne, and Enteric Diseases. A relatively recent creation, the center is dedicated to understanding infectious disease ecology.

Dr. Roger K. Mahr has dedicated his AVMA presidency to championing the one-health concept, resulting in the formation of a 12-member One Health Initiative Task Force. The task force was charged with articulating a vision of one health that will enhance the integration of animal, human, and environmental health for the mutual benefit of all.

Prior to the vote in the AMA House of Delegates, Dr. Mahr testified before the reference committee considering the resolution. "It is my fervent hope and vision that we as health science professionals, and as professional associations, will assume our collaborative responsibility to protect and promote our immeasurable value, to utilize that value to its fullest, and to make sure that our future is a promising future, a future of even greater value," Dr. Mahr said.

After AMA delegates approved the measure, Dr. Mahr said, "I am extremely pleased that the AMA responded with such positive action towards my vision for a one-health initiative."

"I'm particularly grateful," he continued, "for the leadership taken by the AMA president, Dr. Ronald Davis, following our initial contact and communication as I shared my vision for a one-health initiative with him soon after I was installed as president and he was elected AMA president-elect."