(WASHINGTON, DC) March 19, 2021— Legislation that would help implement a nationwide, One Health approach to zoonotic diseases was reintroduced in both chambers of Congress. The bill would create a framework focused on prevention efforts and improved coordination among federal agencies. One Health is the concept that human, animal, and environmental health are all intertwined. The AVMA is dedicated to working closely with Congress to build support for this critically important bill.
The Advancing Emergency Preparedness Through One Health Act (S.861 /H.R. 2061) would establish a coordinated One Health Framework where government agencies work together to help better prevent, prepare for, and respond to zoonotic diseases, which can spread between animals and humans, posing a significant threat to human health. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, zoonotic diseases sicken tens of thousands of Americans each year, and that number could rise dramatically in the event of a new emerging disease outbreak.
“COVID-19 has clearly demonstrated the need for our nation to take a One Health approach to disease outbreaks,” said Dr. Douglas Kratt, AVMA President. “Animals, humans, and the environment are more interconnected than ever, and this legislation is an important step to fully implementing One Health principles into our public health approach. The AVMA urges Congress to pass the Advancing Emergency Preparedness Through One Health Act so we can better prepare, detect, and respond to zoonotic diseases in the future.”
This legislation has been introduced in previous Congresses and now has a renewed interest among lawmakers as they examine disease outbreak preparedness in the wake of the pandemic. The bill was reintroduced in the House by veterinarian Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD), co-chairs of the Veterinary Medicine Caucus. In the Senate, the bill was reintroduced by Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Todd Young (R-IN).
If enacted into law, the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Interior, and Agriculture would coordinate with other agencies to develop a comprehensive federal One Health Framework. The framework would:
- Advance workforce development related to preventing and responding to disease outbreaks in animals and humans.
- Improve coordination between federal agencies that study human and animal health and the environment.
- Advance scientific understanding of the connections among human, animal, and environmental health.
The AVMA is encouraging the veterinary community to contact Congress on this issue and urge their representatives to support the Advancing Emergency Preparedness Through One Health Act.