How soil health is integral to One Health

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One of a series of blogs written by CABI editors for One Health (#OneHealth) Day on November 3rd 2016

 "It is difficult to rate the importance of the different soil functions, since all are vital to our well-being to some extent. However, the function of supporting food and agriculture worldwide is fundamental for the preservation and advancement of human life on this planet."Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States (FAO).

 

The multiple roles of soil often go unnoticed. During time spent carrying out research for this blog I came across the following quote which I feel really captures the relevance of soil health for the One Health concept:

‘The health of soil, plant, animal and man is one and indivisible’.

This was actually said seven decades ago by Lady Eva Balfour, one of the first women to study agriculture at an English University, who went on to found the Soil Association in 1946. Yet it seems that on many levels we are still to realise the connectedness between health in soils, plants, animals and people.

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‘One Welfare’ complements ‘One Health’

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Image: Leroy Skalstad, Pixabay.com

One of a series of blogs written by CABI editors for One Health Day on November 3rd 2016

While ‘One Health’ is a well-established concept, a new term ‘One Welfare’ is also emerging, extending the One Health theme beyond physical health and recognising that animal welfare and human wellbeing are intrinsically connected. In an article in the Veterinary Record, Rebeca García Pinillos and other One Welfare advocates introduce this concept for debate, with an aim to “improve animal welfare and human wellbeing worldwide.”

A One Welfare approach will help to empower the animal welfare field to address the connections between science and policy more effectively in various areas of human society, including environmental science and sustainability, the authors say. “It could also help promote key global objectives such as supporting food security, reducing human suffering (e.g., abuse of vulnerable people) and improving productivity within the farming sector through a better understanding of the value of high welfare standards.”

While One Health initiatives have tended to focus on threats to human and animal health, particularly zoonoses, there is a growing body of research into the mental and physical health benefits of the human-animal bond. In addition, because poor animal welfare can often act as an indicator of poor human welfare (and vice versa), there is a need to understand the psychosocial impacts of human-animal interactions.

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Different explanations of mental illness in Jamaica: can we combine the traditional and biomedical to heal body and spirit?

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Gordon Town Health Centre, Kingston, Jamaica. Image: H. Schwartz

Today is World Mental Health Day [October 10th 2016], whose theme is "psychological first aid and the support people can provide to those in distress". An apt moment to publish the insights into Jamaican community mental health of our summer intern, Harpur Schwartz. In her opinion piece below, Harpur addresses the role of traditional health beliefs in expressing mental distress, and identifies a role for traditional medicine in supporting recovery.

Have you been hearing any voices by Harpur Schwartz, edited by Wendie Norris

I could barely make out his answer to the question, “Have you been hearing any voices”, as he was speaking an English based creole language commonly known as Patwa. From what I could understand, spirits come to him during the night and tell him the ‘truth’ of the world around him. He said that his madness was caused by a spirit or Obeah. It was clear that this man had a mental illness that he strongly believed was caused by supernatural factors. The psychiatrist in the room asked patient number 23, “But you understand these voices are not real, right?” His response was “Yes”. Satisfied with his answer, the psychiatrist administered his medicine and handed him his appointment card without a second thought.

While working with the mental health services unit at the Gordon Town Health Centre in Kingston, I noticed a pattern to each patient’s appointment: the patient would be called in by number, he or she would be asked a series of questions about mood and symptoms, an injection of medicine was always administered, and the patient would leave with an appointment card stating the date for when he or she should return the following month. There was a rhythm to this process, one with emphasis placed on drug administration.

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Mental Health – What can we learn from low and middle income countries?

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“Turning the World Upside Down – Mental Health Challenge” is an open competition to celebrate projects and ideas from low and middle income countries (LIC) which could effectively be applied to major health challenges faced by high income countries.  Four case studies were pitched in a Dragon’s Den style challenge on Wednesday 27th November at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.  The event was also broadcast live as a webinar. The goal was to collect, promote and celebrate the approaches towards mental health (MH) from low and middle income countries.

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You have a Right to Mental Health

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Image: King College London,  project Emerald (emerging mental health systems in low- and middle-income countries)

One of the key sessions  I attended at the second day of “The world in denial: Global mental health matters”( March 26-27, 2013, Royal Society of Medicine, London) highlighted the existing legal tools available to achieve international recognition of the Right to Health,  AND the problems of getting mental health included in this framework.  In particular how including it under disability has implications for access to treatment. This blog summarizes the session and puts information into context with current events, including the 66th World Health Assembly recommendations.

There was much I learnt that day, yet  of much I was already aware, as CABI’s Global Health
database has 20,000 records on mental health, 25% of them
focussed on developing countries. One of the eye-openers for me was an
understanding of the various legal tools dealing with international
recognition of the Right to Health
and the problems of getting mental health included in this framework;
how including it under disability has implications for access to
treatment.

This is what I learnt, put simply, from talks given by Professor Norman Sartorius (President of World Psychiatric Association) and Gunilla Backman (Former health adviser SIDA & Editor, The right to health: theory and practice).

 

Basic Human rights: these are not defined or not universally accepted

AND

There are 5 categories of  documents related to human rights

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