Advancing a One Health Approach To Community-Based Veterinary Medicine
January 13, 2022
The Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) has teamed up with Community Veterinary Outreach to help advance a One Health approach to community-based veterinary care in southwestern Ontario.
As part of this partnership, Community Veterinary Outreach will assist OVC in adopting a One Health model for the Kim and Stu Lang Community Healthcare Partnership Program, which brings OVC faculty, clinical staff, students and partners together to expand animal healthcare for vulnerable populations and equips student veterinarians with the necessary skills to address the systemic challenges of inadequate access to care upon graduation. Community Veterinary Outreach will advise the College on interdisciplinary and student training and education on intercultural humility, the social determinants of health, and the structural and systemic barriers often experienced by vulnerable populations. It will also help facilitate connections between the OVC and other community support services, advising on the coordination of human health and social services in conjunction with community-based veterinary programs.
“The One Health philosophy is at the core of the Ontario Veterinary College’s educational, clinical, and research endeavors. We recognize and celebrate the ubiquity of the human-animal bond and understand that working together across disciplines to combat complex health challenges benefits companion animals and humans alike,” says Jeff Wichtel, Dean of the Ontario Veterinary College. “Working in partnership with Community Veterinary Outreach, a forward-thinking organization with demonstrated leadership and expertise in putting the One Health philosophy into action, will allow us to better support individuals experiencing homelessness and their pets, and ensure student veterinarians are supported in expanding their understanding of equity-based issues in both animal and human medicine.”
Community Veterinary Outreach is a registered charity with a mandate to improve the health of individuals and pets experiencing homelessness or housing vulnerability. Since 2012, it has cared for more than 5,000 pet owners and almost 7,000 pets through veterinary clinics and pet fairs offering preventative care, pet health education, and access to food and supplies alongside human health services. These services are built on a One Health model that Community Veterinary Outreach innovated and recognizes the collaborative relationship between human and animal health and the social and physical environments in which they exist. Foundational to its mission is the knowledge that improved access to veterinary healthcare for at-risk populations presents an opportunity to improve human health outcomes as well.
“Founded in 2003, Community Veterinary Outreach recognized early on that veterinary care could be a gateway for improved access to health care for pet owners experiencing homelessness. For over a decade, Community Veterinary Outreach has provided hands-on One Health opportunities, training and experience to veterinary students from across North America and is now pleased to support One Health education for the Ontario Veterinary College’s future veterinary professionals through this partnership with the Kim and Stu Lang Community Healthcare Partnership Program,” says Michelle Lem, Founder and Director of Community Veterinary Outreach.