Brief History of One Health, One Medicine

By Satesh Bidaisee, Associate Professor of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, St. George's University
August 17, 2011

The concept of One Health, One Medicine originates as far back as to the time of Aristotle in 500 BC and Hippocrates of Cos in 340 BC. Aristotle wrote the “Historia Animalium” to elaborate on the natural zoonotic history of animals whereby Hippocrates provided insight on other possible causations for disease in the human body, not just from “humor” imbalances.  Then Lucius Junis Moderatus Columella wrote a work Segregation and Quarantine, which was an early text on agriculture and lead to a basic form of One Health, in that it advised people and animals to be kept separate on farms.

One Health, One Medicine was eventually conceptualized and theorized by early 20th century physicians William Osler and Rudolf Virchow, known as the father of comparative pathology, and then later re-articulated in University of California at Davis’s, Calvin Schwabe’s Veterinary Medicine and Human Health book publication in 1984.  Launching a whole new outlook on how to view medicine, word of ‘one health, one medicine’ spread quickly around the world, but little was done to mandate that its practice be taken seriously and it remained a concept. It was more than two decades later, that the principle was properly entitled and established as an essential practice to address human health challenges that require collaboration between and amongst human and veterinary medicine.


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