U.S. Sens. Tina Smith, Todd Young Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Push Coordinated “One Health” Approach to Improve Public Health Preparedness

WASHINGTON, D.C. [06/19/19]—Today, U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) introduced their bipartisan Advancing Emergency Preparedness Through One Health Act, which would improve public health preparedness by ensuring federal agencies advance a “One Health” approach—the idea that human and animal health are linked, and that they should be studied together—to prevent and respond to disease outbreaks.
The bill would improve coordination among those studying animal and human health by requiring the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Agriculture Department (USDA) to adopt a One Health framework with other agencies. 

“Minnesota was hit by an avian flu outbreak a few years back, and since then I’ve talked with Minnesotans about how we can work to prevent future outbreaks because they take a real toll on families and the economy,” said Sen. Smith, a member of the Senate Health Committee. “I pushed adopting a ‘one health’ approach while I served as Lieutenant Governor, and now I’m continuing that work in the Senate. We need to recognize the connection between human, animal and environmental health so preparedness efforts meet the needs of all people, all ages, and all communities.”

“Many Hoosiers can still remember the impacts the avian flu outbreak had on communities across Indiana. To protect the health of animals, our farm economy, our families, and the environment, we must take vigorous steps to ensure we are prepared in prevention and response for the next disease outbreak,” said Senator Young. “This legislation is centered around the concept that human health and animal health are linked, and to prepare for future health crises we must better coordinate between federal agencies to understand that connection.”

“The public health and food safety threats emerging from the intersection of humans, animals and the environment are well documented and they are growing,” said Dr. Andrew T. Maccabe, Chief Executive Officer of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC). “We need to be as good as we can be and taking an integrated One Health approach to addressing these problems is an essential strategy for success. Creating more cooperation among the various federal agencies involved in this effort will certainly increase their effectiveness. We strongly support the Advancing Emergency Preparedness Through One Health Act of 2019.”

“Local health department professionals understand that the health of people is connected to the health of animals and the environment and that a ‘one health’ approach is necessary to truly protect health. The Advancing Emergency Preparedness Through One Health Act acknowledges the critical role of partnerships between the local, state, and federal levels to develop a One Health framework that will protect and save lives. We appreciate the leadership of Senators Smith and Young who recognize the need for the federal government to adopt this approach,” said Lori Tremmel Freeman, MBA, CEO of the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO).

“Veterinarians work on the front lines of disease outbreaks and know firsthand the importance of One Health, and how animal health, public health, and the environment are all connected. Coordination is a key component of disease preparedness, and this legislation will help advance efforts to improve response capabilities and guard against potential future outbreaks,” said Dr. John de Jong, President of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

“The Infectious Diseases Society of America is pleased to endorse the Advancing Emergency Preparedness Through One Health Act,” said Dr. Cindy Sears, President of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. “Humans, animals, and the environment interact more than ever before, and a One Health approach is necessary to develop effective solutions to many infectious disease threats. IDSA greatly appreciates that this bill aims to ensure our nation has the necessary workforce, coordination, and expertise to address disease threats in human or animal populations.”

Last year, Sen. Smith met with Minnesota livestock producers and veterinarians at the Minnesota Poultry Testing Laboratory in Willmar, and she heard folks talk about the importance of identifying and monitoring emerging diseases. And since then, Sen. Smith and her office have continued to hear about the need to combat African Swine Fever, Chronic Wasting Disease and Lyme Disease. Through the Advancing Emergency Preparedness One Health Act, the One Health framework would:

•    Advance workforce development related to preventing and responding to disease outbreaks in animals and humans;
•    Improve coordination between federal agencies studying human, animal health, and the environment; and
•    Foster understanding of the connections between human, animal, and environmental health.

You can read more about the bill here.