As the world grapples with the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic and concerns around the current outbreak of bird flu and its transmission to mammals, leading academics and experts from across Wales met at Aberystwyth University on Friday, 17 February to discuss their ideas on One Health in Wales.

One Health is a collaborative multidisciplinary approach bringing together partners working in the fields of human, animal and environment health to work on common challenges.

Human health is closely related to the environment and animals and the impact of a virus like Covid-19, or bird flu can be enormous, affecting many things, including what people eat and how they travel. 

Hosted by Professor Nigel Holt, Professor Charles Musselwhite and Dr Simon Payne from the Department of Psychology at Aberystwyth University, the event brought together influential leaders and practitioners to share knowledge and learn from one another.

Professor Holt, head of the Department of Psychology said: “One Health is an idea that was introduced a number of years ago but continues to gather pace and this is the first of two meetings where we hope to gain a better understanding of how we all work within the framework.”

Professor Musselwhite from the Department of Psychology added: “It’s about community, and how we as a society value each other’s approach to health and to each other. We learnt during Friday’s session that this includes not only things like healthy and active transport and valuing our older community, but also the importance of the shared environment, and how we share that with animals – both in terms of recreation but also food and environmental health.”

The conversations drew perspectives on the present situation regarding health in Wales and how researchers, practitioners and consumers can work together to better develop this for the future.

Those present included representatives from Welsh Government, Public Health Wales, and researchers and interested parties whose work concerns animal health, wellbeing and many aspects of human health and the environment. It also included those whose work encompasses policy development and change.

Ceredigion MP Ben Lake, who attended the session, said: “It’s so clear that joined-up thinking like this is so critical, especially at this time. We’ve all got a role to play, and that includes politicians like me.”

The day provided the basis for the second event which will be held in Cardiff in March.

‘We listened carefully and recorded a huge amount of information at the first of our two sessions” said Dr Payne, behaviour change specialist and convenor of the Master’s in behaviour change at Aberystwyth University.

“Now we will spend time looking for theme and commonalities, and developing ideas for how we might look to the future to really drive and bring about change in Wales in this very important area of our lives.”