The One Health High Level Expert Panel of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have defined ‘One Health’ as the “Integrated, unifying approach that aims to sustainably balance and optimize the health of people, animals and ecosystems. It recognizes the health of humans, domestic and wild animals, plants, and the wider environment (including ecosystems) are closely linked and inter-dependent. The approach mobilizes multiple sectors, disciplines and communities at varying levels of society to work together to foster well-being and tackle threats to health and ecosystems, while addressing the collective need for clean water, energy and air, safe and nutritious food, taking action on climate change, and contributing to sustainable development.”
A One Health module has been part of the formal veterinary curriculum for several years, but recently a joint module presentation to both veterinary and medical students was trialled. The Mnisi community, a rural community that borders the Kruger National Park, was used as the background setting for all the discussions. Recorded presentations on relevant One Health topics were obtained from experts in the field. These topics ranged from sustainable development goals, climate and land-use change and environmental chemicals to antimicrobial resistance, zoonoses, food safety and health economics. The presentations were available online in the learning management system, but then face-to-face discussions were held on each campus in smaller groups where a World Café approach was used to discuss One Health issues that impact the Mnisi community. The World Café is a framework to support conversations that matter and is built on the assumption that people already have within them the wisdom and creativity to tackle difficult problems and challenges.
The initial feedback on the new format of presenting the module was very positive and the students appreciated the opportunity to interact with peers on different campuses. The coordinators of the module are not aware that anything similar has been done at other universities. The success of the running of the module this year is a good sign that the joint presentation of One Health between two faculties at the University of Pretoria will become a permanent fixture and that it will maybe expand to incorporate other faculties.