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An influential perception

The human-animal relationship determines how we deal with human and animal health. The history referring the healing of humans and animals to each other is long. This article, however, does not examine the history but instead focusses on the current situation beginning with the 21st century. We summarise how human and animal health co-exist currently and how they relate. We consider that health care is structured in different entities called a health system.

For instance, in human health most countries have public and private health system components with distinct roles and responsibilities. In most cases, the organisational structures of human and animal health are separate, existing within different ministries.

As an example consider those systems in Ethiopia. Organisation chart one shows the structure and reporting system of the Ethiopian human health system. Patients typically seek help at a health post or a health center in a village (Kebele). They may be referred to a primary hospital at the sub-district level (Woreda). For special treatments and surgery, they may be further referred to a zonal/district hospital (2nd level) or a regional hospital (3rd level).

A chart that depicts the human health system organisation in Ethiopia. Organisation chart one: the structure and reporting systems of the Ethiopian human health system (FMoH stands for the Federal Ministry of Health)
Taken from teaching material for medical and veterinary students of Jigjiga University, Ethiopia. © courtesy of Mr Seid Mohamed Ali

The second organisation chart shows the structure and reporting system of the Ethiopian animal health system. Sick or dead animals are reported to community animal health workers (CAHWs), who in turn may seek support from animal health technicians, animal health assistants or veterinarians. Disease surveillance is organised from the level of the province (Region) and the nation as a whole. The animal health system is less decentralised than the public health system.

A chart showing the animal health system organisation in Ethiopia). Organisation chart two: the structure and reporting system of the Ethiopian animal health system (MoA stands for the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources in Ethiopia)
Taken from teaching material for medical and veterinary students of Jigjiga University, Ethiopia. © courtesy of Mr Seid Mohamed Ali

Do these systems connect? Where are they separate? Reflect on these questions and leave a comment in the ’comments‘ section.

In the next step you will consider the health systems in your own country. And in later steps of this course you will learn about existing more integrated institutions, for example in Canada.


Further reading

If you are interested to learn more about the long history relating the healing of humans and animals, we refer you to:

Bresalier, M. et al. (2015). One Health in History, in: Zinsstag, J. et al. One Health: One Health, The Theory and Practice of Integrated Health approaches, Wallingford, CABI, 1-15.

References

Zinsstag, J. et al. (2015). One Health. The Theory and Practice of Integrated Health Approaches, Wallingford, CABI.

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This article is from the free online course:

One Health: Connecting Humans, Animals and the Environment

University of Basel