WMA Resolution on Collaboration between Human and Veterinary Medicine


Adopted by the 59th WMA General Assembly, Seoul, Korea, October 2008

The majority of the emerging infectious diseases, including the bioterrorist agents, are zoonoses. Zoonoses can, by definition, infect both animals and humans. By their very nature, the fields of human medicine and veterinary medicine are complementary and synergistic in confronting, controlling and preventing zoonotic diseases from infecting across species.

Collaboration and communication between human medicine and veterinary medicine have been limited in recent decades, yet the challenges of the 21st Century demand that these two professions work together.

An initiative, often called the "One Health" initiative, is being developed to improve the lives of all species-human and animal-through the integration of human and veterinary medicine. (1) "One Health" aims to promote and implement close meaningful collaboration and communication between human medicine, veterinary medicine and all allied health scientists with the goal of hastening human public health efficacy as well as advanced health care options for humans (and animals) via comparative biomedical research.

The World Medical Association (WMA) recognizes the ways in which animals and animal care may affect human health and disease through its own current policies, particularly its statements on Animal Use in Biomedical Research, Resistance to Antimicrobial Drugs and Avian and Pandemic Influenza. The WMA already works with other health professions including dentists, nurses and pharmacists though the World Health Professions Alliance.

RECOMMENDATIONS

That the World Medical Association:

  • Support collaboration between human and veterinary medicine;
  • Support the concept of joint educational efforts between human medical and veterinary medical schools;
  • Encourage joint efforts in clinical care through the assessment, treatment, and prevention of cross-species disease transmission;
  • Support cross-species disease surveillance and control efforts in public health, particularly the identification of early disease and outbreak trends;
  • Support the need for joint efforts in the development, integration and evaluation of screening tools, diagnostic methods, medicines, vaccines, surveillance systems and policies for the prevention, management and control of zoonotic diseases;
  • Engage in a dialogue with the World Veterinary Association to discuss strategies for enhancing collaboration between human and veterinary medical professions in medical education, clinical care, public health, and biomedical research.
  • Encourage National Medical Associations to engage in a dialogue with their veterinary counterparts to discuss strategies for enhancing collaboration between human and veterinary medical professions within their own countries.

 

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1) J. Zinsstag, et al. Lancet 2005; 366: 2142-2145 and E.P.J. Gibbs. Veterinary Record 2005; 157: 673-679