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Murdoch University advocates a One Health approach to combat emerging infectious diseases

Coronavirus cells on a blue background

Murdoch scientists believe the emergence of high-impact infectious diseases is increasing, driven by excessive consumption of natural resources threatening biodiversity on a global scale

Murdoch University scientists are working with other practitioners to determine how to reduce high-impact infectious diseases, such as COVID-19 and foot and mouth disease, emerging in or entering Australia.

Dr Mieghan Bruce, Dr Shafi Sahibzada and Dr Bethany Jackson from the University’s School of Veterinary Medicine, and Dr Chartotte Oskam and Professor Chad Hewitt from the Harry Butler Institute, are advocating for pandemic risk management and governance to use a multidisciplinary One Health approach in Australia.

The team outlined these strategies in an article published with lead author Dr Katie Woolaston from Queensland University of Technology in the Journal of Globalization and Public Health.

The Murdoch scientists believe the emergence of high-impact infectious diseases is increasing, driven by excessive consumption of natural resources threatening biodiversity on a global scale.

The scientists are appealing to all Australians to take a proactive approach in the prevention and preparedness of future pandemics via environmental protection and conservation.

This begins with developing and implementing One Health strategies that are empowered by Indigenous knowledge systems and experiences, which are supported and respected by veterinary and environmental sciences.

The team of scientists are boosting One Health expertise within the ASEAN countries through the ASEAN-Australia One Health Fellowship Program . Th program was established in 2021 at Murdoch University with funding from the Australian Government under the ASEAN Partnerships for Recovery.

Supporting 40 fellowships, the program aims to strengthen regional One Health technical capacity and coordination with an emphasis on supporting ASEAN’s regional public health and health security agenda.

Utilising Murdoch’s multidisciplinary strength within the Harry Butler Institute, Veterinary Medicine, and Environmental and Conservation Sciences enables Business, Law & Social Sciences to assess the social and commercial adjustments that need to be made for effective policies.

Australia is a globally unique biodiversity hotspot, giving us the opportunity to protect and regenerate our land, reducing significant environmental impacts and in turn mitigating the risk of disease epidemics.

Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has centred largely on public health strategies. However, social and emotional health and wellbeing involves strong connections to land and human-animal bonds, strengthened by biosecurity and economic policy and legislation.

Pro Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Davies said it is great to see the team of multidisciplinary practitioners and researchers working together to analyse, synthesise, and harmonise the links between the pandemic and our environment.

“A key goal of the One Health approach is to be proactive in countering threats of emerging infectious diseases and zoonoses through a recognition of the interdependence between human, animal, and environmental health,” said Professor Davies.

“Its aim is to reduce the risk of future pandemics emerging in or entering Australia, but also provide a model for prevention strategies around the world.”
Posted on:

1 Aug 2022

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