In recognition of the interconnected nature of people’s health with that of animals and the environment, a bill sponsored by several Assembly Democrats to establish a task force with the purpose of developing a promoting collaboration between different professionals in those fields was signed into law Thursday.
Under the law (formerly bill A-1992/S-347), a ‘New Jersey One Health Task Force’ will be created and tasked with developing a plan to promote inter-disciplinary communication and collaboration between physicians, veterinarians and other scientific professionals/State agencies. The goal will be to promote the health and well-being of New Jersey’s residents, animals and natural resources.
In addition to creating a plan to promote professional collaboration, goals and responsibilities of the task force will also include developing diagnostic tests and protocols for responding to animal disease outbreaks, educating health professionals on appropriate antibiotic use and joining forces with various entities to develop new approaches to reducing hazards to human and animal health.
Upon the legislation becoming law, Assembly sponsors Sterley Stanley (D-Middlesex), Nancy Pinkin (formerly D-Middlesex), Herb Conaway (D-Burlington) and Eric Houghtaling (D-Monmouth) issued the following joint statement:
“The concept of ‘one health’ is not a new one – many experts have emphasized the interconnectedness of human, animal and environmental health for years. What affects one area will inevitably affect the others.
“This idea has been brought to the forefront as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, since the virus likely originated in animals before jumping to people. This is far from the first time people have become ill as a result of a zoological or environmental source.
“Ailments such as malaria, ’swine flu,’ Lyme disease and the Zika virus have all come from animals. Meanwhile, environmental issues such as lead-filled water and contaminated crops have led to E. coli poisoning and developmental disorders – among other health concerns.
“We need to improve communication and collaboration across an array of disciplines to stop these kinds of outcomes in their tracks. Taking a more comprehensive approach to monitoring and improving the well-being of our environment and all living creatures within it would help us more easily prevent and contain potential health crises.
“This task force will be a significant step towards unifying efforts throughout our state to improve the well-being of people, animals and the environment on behalf of every one of us.”