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Health practitioners attend global conference in MoBay

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

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ST JAMES, Jamaica (JIS) — More than 300 health practitioners from across Jamaica and the world are currently participating in the One Health/One Global Environment Academic Conference and Faculty Forum, under way at the Hilton Rose Hall and Spa Resort in Montego Bay, St James.

The five-day conference, which is being held under the theme 'One Health: One Global Environment', began on Sunday. It is being hosted by the Jamaica Association of Public Health Inspectors (JAPHI) and the International Federation of Environmental Health (IFEH).

Chair of the Conference Organising Committee and lecturer at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Department of Community Health and Psychiatry, Dr Henroy Scarlett, at the official opening ceremony yesterday, said that while the conference focuses on the various aspects of the One Health concept, the predominant focus would be environmental health.

One Health is a globally accepted concept, which recognises that human health is connected to the health of animals and the environment, as nearly 75 per cent of all emerging human infectious diseases in the past three decades, originated in animals.

The goal of One Health is to enable health-science professionals to improve human, animal and plant health and to promote environmental resilience through collaboration.

“There are many diseases that are transmissible from animals to man, so doctors need to talk to veterinarians and veterinarians need to talk to environmental health specialists, as the environment plays a large role in disease transmission,” Dr Scarlett explained.

“We are really happy to have this conference in Jamaica at this time. It demonstrates that Jamaica continues to shine globally. We can attract this kind of support from not just local persons but from international people,” he added.

Scarlett said among the topical issues impacting the world in general to be explored at the conference is that of antibiotic resistance, as there are situations where animals are treated with antibiotics without the supervision of veterinary practitioners.

“By doing this, antibiotics can get into our meat; it can get into our milk; it can get into our food, and human beings, without knowing it, could be getting these chemicals in their food,” he explained.

“Many antibiotics are used to treat both animal and human diseases, so if we are getting small amounts of antibiotics in our food, later on in life, if we are to be treated with those antibiotics, they have no use to us, because we have been getting small doses over the years. So, it is really a serious issue. The matter of animal health is important if we are concerned about human health and vice-versa,” Dr Scarlett said.

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