SAINT Lucia is hoping to join CARICOM member countries to promote the One Health Concept.
The concept encourages a holistic approach to health, bringing together health institutions and health practitioners from a cross section of society.
The One Health Concept is not entirely new, and re-emerged in 2004 through the collaborative efforts of the World Health Organization (WHO), the Organization for Animal Health (OIE), and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), with the aim to address the escalating diseases affecting humans, 70 percent of which originate from animals.
President of the Saint Lucia Veterinary and Medical Association and former Chief Veterinary Officer in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Joseph, said the scarcity of resources makes the One Health Concept even more important, as it discourages the solo approach to addressing health issues.
“If we are proactive and understand the financial implications of these diseases, then it makes sense to address it collectively. Our budget allocations are lessening while demands are increasing, so it is logical to pool resources and approach issues holistically instead of in isolation.”
Dr. Joseph said the One Health Concept will bring together the human, animal, and environmental perspectives since health is dependent on the environment, as well as foods eaten and where and how they are grown.
Former Chief Medical Officer, Pathologist Dr. Stephen King, said doctors now have to use an integrated approach.
“In the 50s and 60s doctors became quite arrogant about treating almost anything with a pill. Now we are realizing that’s not the answer. We have to look at the whole spectrum of disease. So that concept has caused us to shift how we think, and join forces in a multi-disciplinary way with holistic practitioners, herbal practitioners, and those of us who use our medicines, with our understanding of pathology and physiology and other health management avenues,” he said.
CARICOM has appointed country ambassadors to drive the process, and Saint Lucia’s Ministry of Health is on board. However, the Saint Lucia Veterinary and Medical Association believes that in order for the initiative to take root a policy shift is required, and as a result, has begun a series of school discussions as part of the One Health Concept sensitization thrust.