The Global Health Program works with international partners to combat threats to wildlife, human, and ecosystem health and survival by addressing these challenges at their source: the human-wildlife interface. GHP is based upon the One Health platform, which recognizes that the health of all species is intertwined and closely dependent upon each other. As such, GHP scientists utilize a broad range of expertise (wildlife veterinarians, pathologists, biologists, research associates, and technicians) to address wildlife health concerns, investigate disease at the human/wildlife interface, and conduct international training programs in an effort to build intervention and response capacity worldwide.
The fate of human communities, wildlife, and ecosystems become more and more tightly interwoven as people continue to expand and the world becomes increasingly interconnected through the ease of travel. Animal trafficking and land-use change are constantly bringing humans and wildlife into close contact and providing opportunities for the spread of diseases into new locations and new species. Worldwide, an estimated 75 percent of diseases affecting human health are caused by pathogens originating in animals (zoonotic). These include HIV/AIDS, Ebola, SARS, influenza, and MERS coronavirus, just to name a few. The Global Health Program and its collaborators understand the importance of wildlife health in the prevention of human disease and work tirelessly to identify global needs and implement responses effectively. These efforts not only act upon threats identified in the present, but also to build the regional capacity to more quickly identify and respond to emerging threats in the future.
With its rich history of leadership and innovation in the fields of wildlife disease, ecosystem conservation, and international capacity building, the Smithsonian is poised to spearhead efforts to identify, investigate, and mitigate the impact of diseases that afflict animals and humans alike. The Global Health Program scientists incorporate state-of-the-art scientific techniques and innovations, global experts, and up-to-the minute data to address global health threats at the community and regional level. By promptly joining local health responders with the tools and expertise they need, GHP works to establish the capacity to prevent emerging infectious diseases at their source.