The Humanimal Trust: Enhancing Our Outlook on Medicine
Many of us have medical complaints or take medications, but how often do we think about the bigger picture? Did you know that there is a charity that is fully committed to improving how the industry is currently run?
A few of years ago a family friend of ours became a vet and got a job at a famous veterinary practice. You might have heard of them; they’re called Fitzpatrick’s Referrals. If you havent heard of Fitzpatrick’s they have their own TV show called The Supervet, which shows pioneering surgery and treatment for animals.
Before my friend worked there I had honestly never heard of the place, and initially I was tuning in to see if he was on TV – he wasn’t. I think I saw him twice. But it doesn’t matter, because I have now become addicted to the programme.
The practice boasts a brilliant and dedicated team, and it is clear that for all staff, their job is their passion. Yes there can be sad moments, but you always know that they give their best and do everything that is humanly possible in order to improve an animal’s quality of life.
The show follows the practice’s owner Professor Noel Fitzpatrick, Noel is like one of those rare teachers you might have had in school with contagious enthusiasm for their subject. He has so much passion about his profession; it makes everyone else just as equally absorbed and you soon realise you have been learning while watching the show, to the point where you find yourself talking to friends about stuff like orthopaedics over a cup of coffee.
After discovering about Fitzpatrick’s, and adoring the work of love and hope that they provide to every patient and family that reaches them, I soon found that there was also a charity, founded by Noel Fitzpatrick. You would expect a charity that’s created by a pioneering veterinarian to be focussed on animal health but it’s not. It’s called The Humanimal Trust, and it focuses on humans and animals equally through the concept of one medicine.
The theory is quite simple:
Human + Animal = Humanimal
One medicine is the idea that humans and animals will be treated equally in the field of medicine.
There are basically 3 main parts to the ethos of The Humanimal Trust and their concept of one medicine:
- Clinical communication between vets and doctors.
‘Everyday there are advancements and research breakthroughs in both veterinary and human medicine, yet at present neither profession collaborates to share their information that would progress treatments and procedures using regenerative medicine for the benefit of humans and animals simultaneously.’
A couple of weeks ago, I listened to a BBC Radio 4 interview that Noel had taken part in, it discussed the topic of: ‘Should Doctors and Vets Work More Closely Together?’, an audience member mentioned that while working in Australia as a doctor, he and his colleagues discovered that vets had solved a rare medical issue that had been baffling them, it was discovered to be a simple as lack of copper absorption. The veterinary community already knew about it and had been treating sheep for it.
When I first heard that The Humanimal Trust wants to improve communication, I thought about how beneficial it could be in sourcing medical solutions and treatment for so many people.
As many of you know by now I have epilepsy, and I can remember thinking that if there was a vet somewhere in the world, who had perhaps made immense progress towards epilepsy, which could be integrated to humans, I would like to know about it, and I think many other people would feel the same.
- Medication for humans and animals that is ethical
Ethics in medicine is an important topic, and The Humanimal Trust is addressing this.
Currently, if we have any medication or implants they have been tested on animals in order for them to reach us. Meaning a perfectly healthy animal has sacrificed its life for our medicine.
In 2015 approximately 4,300 dogs in the UK sacrificed their lives for human medicine, in the USA, that number was nearer 50,000  . These are shocking statistics, and since I have been a child I have always been concerned about animal welfare. I have never been content with the fact that animals have been used to test drugs, and that our only consolation is that it’s safer than endangering human life. But, there could be a possible solution. The Humanimal Trust proposes that as so many diseases and conditions are practically identical in humans and animals, they could trial medications and implants on animals that are actually unwell, and then co-operate with pharmaceutical companies, which would then produce more ethical medications.  This would be benefiting both humans and animals.
Human medicines are huge business, so there is a risk that pharmaceutical companies may see more profit in them. I once sat next to my GP as we went through a list of generic and branded medications that I could have. I saw exactly how much they were costing the NHS to purchase, and the prices were eye-watering.
- Clinical Trials
A vital part of The Humanimal Trust is that they also conduct their own clinical studies; The Trust is potentially the only charity of its kind in the world that is funding clinical research in animals and humans at the same time.
It’s understandable that we all want cures and treatments for our illnesses, but there other problems that can also arise without warning, for example MRSA and Ebola. These bugs are the same in humans and animals, so what’s the best plan for when a superbug strikes? Especially as it’s no news that healthcare professionals can sometimes overprescribe antibiotics:
‘You don’t care about MRSA until it’s in your child and yet The Humanimal Trust is funding a project to look at bacterial resistance with over prescription of antibiotics, it’s the same bug. We have DNA mapped, every bug that comes into my practice it’s the same bug that you or your child would have. Why are we not doing a study in parallel? If doctors are going to be over prescribing antibiotics and vets are going to be over prescribing antibiotics,…we are in a mess.’ (Noel Fizpatrick)
I am grateful for learning about Fitzpatrick Referrals through The Supervet, I believe that they are more than just a referral practice. They show unconditional love and hope to everyone regardless of whether they are animal or human. I have been equally appreciative to discover the amazing charity of The Humanimal Trust as the charity also provides that same love and hope with the pledge to benefit both humans and animals.
I truly believe that The Humanimal trust has the potential to change the world of medicine on so many levels.
The most important thing that we can do is support them. Here is a link to their website if you would like to know more.
If you would just like to spread the word, feel free to share this article.
Thanks for reading!
 pictures courtesy of The Humanimal Trust: http://www.humanimaltrust.org.uk/ 05/2017