One Health at ICBAS: a holistic approach to health

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Health threats are complex and often difficult to predict, detect and contain. A clear example is the virus that originated the current pandemic, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19 in humans.

IIn recent history, there were different events associated with other zoonoses (diseases from animals that can be transmitted to humans), such as HIV/AIDS, H5N1/Avian influenza, Ebola and Zica, that highlighted the role of the environment in the emergence of these diseases.

Exponential growth of the human population, widespread urbanization, climate change, alterations in agricultural /patterns, increased contact between domestic and wild animals, among other factors, has led to an increasing number of infectious diseases and environmental problems.

The One Health approach aims to prevent, detect, contain, eliminate, and respond to public health threats caused by agents and events that are dangerous to human, animal, and environmental health. These include zoonoses, antimicrobial resistance, climate change, and reduction of forests, among others. This approach contributes to a scientific, technical and adaptive response to these complex problems. 

We urgently need to intensify the collaboration between experts and organizations (health, regulation, policy) in three key areas: medical, veterinary, and environmental health.

ICBAS, since its foundation in 1975, has considered itself as a multidisciplinary institution in Life Sciences. Currently, the school occupies a unique space in Portugal, both in teaching and research, as it integrates the three basic areas of the One Health concept (human, animal, and environmental health).

ICBAS aims to make the concept of One Health central to its activity by training students with a holistic perspective across the human, animal, and environmental sectors; promoting interdisciplinary and synergistic research within ICBAS and in collaboration with other national and international organizations, thus improving public health for all. 

The ICBAS One Health approach also integrates science communication and outreach for all, along with developing training, collaboration and funding opportunities.

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This text was written by Begoña Pérez Cabezas | One Health Programme Officer at ICBAS

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