Rutgers University hosts Regional One Health Consortium Conference

A group of scientists, experts, and representatives from New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Carolina, and West Virginia convened for a mid-Atlantic Regional One Health Consortium Conference at Rutgers University last week.

In-person and virtual participants shared data and knowledge regarding ongoing efforts in their states on issues related to the health of humans, animals, and the environment. Topics included ticks and tick-borne diseases, zoonotic diseases, wildlife diseases, wildlife mortality, coordinated responses to avian influenza, the management and impact of mosquitoes, rabies, climate change, nutrition, and sustainability on all living organisms and our shared environment.

The event was hosted by Dr. Gloria Bachmann, associate dean for women’s health and professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, co-chair of the New Jersey One Health Steering Committee, and core faculty member of the Rutgers Global Health Institute, and by Michael Zwick, senior vice president for research at Rutgers University.

“COVID-19, health disparities, monkeypox, nutrition, climate change, agriculture, all have to do with One Health. We at universities must create working teams and partnerships to address these large and complex problems,” Zwick stated. He encouraged participants to network and engage with one another and build relationships, a theme echoed throughout many conference presentations.

Cheryl Stroud, DVM, executive director, One Health Commission, and keynote speaker, spoke about the importance of building relationships.

“In today’s world, no one profession or discipline can know everything. We must go out of our comfort zones and take the initiative to make sure we are connected with people in other fields. We must build relationships across the silos that our systems have forced us into, across disciplines so that during an emerging health crisis, we already have in place professional working relationships. As is often said, during a health crisis is a really bad time for health professionals and local government officials to be exchanging business cards for the first time when they need to be working hand in hand,” Stroud said.

In her presentation, Stroud gave a high-level overview of the history of the One Health movement. She spoke about the work that is being done on an international level in terms of the One Health movement, meetings, and summits, and applauded New Jersey for its efforts in establishing a One Health Task Force.

And Doug Riley ended the day of presentations by encouraging participants to think about ways they can take the first step to bridge connections with one another and continue the work of the One Health initiative.