Prepared by Hillery Harvey, August 2010
with funding from the sponsors of the Ian Axford (New Zealand) Fellowships in Public Policy
Hillery Harvey is Special Assistant to the Director of the National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Maryland. Hillery specialises in issues related to emerging infectious diseases and public health policy, with recent focus on seasonal and pandemic influenza preparedness and response. Hillery earned her PhD in microbiology in 2000, after which she worked for several years at a major vaccine company. Her work in infectious diseases sparked a personal interest in the interdependence of animals, humans and the environment and the inherent links among the health of all three.
During Hillery’s Ian Axford Fellowship exchange to New Zealand she was based at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in Wellington, where she researched how the global One Health initiative – an international paradigm that recognises the relatedness of human, animal, and environmental health – might improve prevention and response to communicable diseases and ecosystem threats in New Zealand and the United States.
This report provides guidance to improve New Zealand human, animal, and ecosystem health through a common sense approach that acknowledges the interdependence of people, domestic animals and wildlife, and the environment.
Project methodology was straightforward. Qualitative interviews were conducted with New Zealand policy-makers, researchers, educators, and community members, ranging in expertise across human, animal, and ecosystem health disciplines. These discussions revealed examples of successful transdisciplinary coordination, consistent themes, and recommendations. In New Zealand, transdisciplinary actions led to striking achievements in control of bovine brucellosis, bovine tuberculosis, echinococcosis, and more recently, campylobacteriosis, pandemic influenza, and the southern saltmarsh mosquito.
The project uncovered major themes. With today’s increasingly dynamic health challenges, New Zealand expert consensus indicates a need for greater transdisciplinary coordination. Professionals are enthusiastic to engage their transdisciplinary counterparts. Skilled transdisciplinary leadership ability is crucial.
The report provides policy, research, education, and community level recommendations intended to provoke discussion when coordinating transdisciplinary action to address human, animal, and ecosystem health. The overarching recommendation is that effective health strategy must diffuse artificial boundaries among disciplines by collectively addressing health threats according to disease pathway. This requires a dual top-down, bottom-up approach, from policy to education to community efforts. Ecosystem health importance must be mainstreamed for increased public and policy-maker support.
Appendix 1: Acronym list
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