The One Health Breakthrough Partnership (OHBP) has recently gained significant recognition for its pivotal role in addressing complex global health challenges. This collaborative initiative, aimed at fostering cross-disciplinary cooperation between human, animal, and environmental health sectors, has been mentioned in multiple answers to Parliamentary questions within the Scottish Government. These references underscore the importance and impact of OHBP in shaping policies and driving advancements in public health. In this blog post, we will explore the four instances where OHBP has been acknowledged, highlighting the potential it holds for a healthier and more sustainable future.
In a recent parliamentary question posed by Maurice Golden, MSP for North East Scotland, the Scottish Government was asked to provide a breakdown of the current and future source control measures regarding pharmaceuticals. In response, the government highlighted the importance of ongoing research and monitoring to understand the level and impact of pharmaceuticals in the environment. The Scottish Government emphasised its commitment to source control measures through the One Health Breakthrough Partnership (OHBP). OHBP, supported by the Scottish Government, collaborates with organisations such as the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Scottish Water to minimise the presence of pharmaceuticals in the environment. OHBP has facilitated the production of a baseline assessment of pharmaceutical levels in Scotland’s water environment and is working towards developing a visualisation tool for pharmaceuticals in water systems. OHBP’s collaboration extends to NHS Highland, where they are involved in initiatives such as waste amnesty schemes, social prescribing, and the development of a Single National Formulary to advocate sustainable alternatives and responsible medicine disposal. This integrated approach, involving multiple stakeholders, underscores the comprehensive efforts of OHBP in ensuring effective source control measures and protecting Scotland’s environment.
In a parliamentary question raised by Maurice Golden, MSP for North East Scotland, the Scottish Government was asked about its plans to enhance wastewater treatment facilities to prevent the entry of pharmaceuticals and other novel pollutants into the environment. In response, the government highlighted the collaborative efforts between Scottish Water and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) through the Chemical Investigation Programme (CIP) in Scotland. The CIP project focused on identifying chemicals of concern, their sources, and concentrations in the sewerage system, aiming to address them in a sustainable manner while complying with environmental quality standards.
The monitoring program conducted at 20 wastewater treatment works (WwTW) across Scotland included sampling at various points, such as the inlet, final effluent discharge, and receiving watercourse. The research, conducted between 2015 and 2020, provided valuable insights into the presence of pharmaceuticals and other substances of interest. While the risk assessment for many pharmaceuticals is still under development, the study identified 23 pharmaceuticals for further investigation. Following analysis and consultation with SEPA, 14 pharmaceuticals were determined to require no further action, while 9 were considered substances of concern and targeted for process optimisation and source control measures.
In addition to these efforts, Scottish Water is an active member of the One Health Breakthrough Partnership (OHBP). OHBP, a collaborative initiative aiming to reduce the levels of pharmaceutical substances in the environment, brings together various stakeholders, including government agencies, research institutions, and industry. By actively participating in OHBP, Scottish Water demonstrates its commitment to addressing the challenges posed by pharmaceutical pollution and working towards sustainable solutions.
The ongoing research and process optimisation trials within the CIP project, as well as the involvement of Scottish Water in OHBP, highlight the Scottish Government’s dedication to improving wastewater treatment facilities and preventing the entry of pharmaceuticals and novel pollutants into the environment. By embracing collaborative partnerships and leveraging scientific advancements, Scotland is striving to protect its water resources and promote a healthier and more sustainable environment.
In response to a parliamentary question raised by Maurice Golden, MSP for North East Scotland, the Scottish Government provided insights into whether the mentioned investments would contribute to addressing pharmaceutical contamination.
In response, the government highlighted that while the investment supporting Scottish Water’s Improving Urban Waters Routemap does not specifically target pharmaceutical pollution, efforts are underway to address this concern through collaborative initiatives.
Scottish Water, in partnership with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), is actively engaged in the Chemical Investigation Programme (CIP) Scotland. This program involves sampling for priority substances of emerging concern, including pharmaceuticals. By conducting process optimisation trials at wastewater treatment works, Scottish Water aims to enhance its understanding of whether improved treatment can be achieved at its assets. This research initiative demonstrates the commitment of Scottish Water and SEPA to address pharmaceutical contamination.
Additionally, Scottish Water is a proud member of the One Health Breakthrough Partnership (OHBP), a collaborative endeavour funded by the Scottish Government. OHBP brings together key stakeholders from the water, environment, and healthcare sectors, working collectively to tackle pharmaceutical pollution in the environment through source control measures. OHBP aims to develop sustainable solutions that minimise the entry of pharmaceuticals into wastewater and surface water, thereby reducing the environmental impact of healthcare practices.
The involvement of Scottish Water in the Chemical Investigation Programme and the One Health Breakthrough Partnership signifies the Scottish Government’s dedication to addressing the issue of pharmaceutical contamination. By actively participating in research, process optimisation, and collaborative partnerships, Scotland is taking significant steps toward minimising the presence of pharmaceuticals in the environment and promoting sustainable practices across multiple sectors.
Alexander Burnett, MSP for Aberdeenshire West, raised an important parliamentary question regarding the Scottish Government’s discussions with Scottish Water concerning the potential presence and impact of pharmaceuticals in water. In response, the Scottish Government highlighted its regular communication with Scottish Water on these matters, emphasising the collaborative efforts between Scottish Water and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) through the ongoing Chemical Investigation Programme (CIP) Scotland.
The CIP Scotland initiative involves comprehensive sampling for priority substances of emerging concern, including pharmaceuticals. As contaminants of emerging concern, the monitoring and assessment of the risk posed by pharmaceuticals to the water environment are still in the developmental phase. In line with the agreed actions on source control for various pharmaceuticals under the second phase of the CIP, the third phase focuses on conducting additional sampling and process optimisation trials at Wastewater Treatment Works. These efforts aim to enhance our understanding of whether better treatment can be achieved at Scottish Water’s assets.
When it comes to drinking water, the Drinking Water Quality Regulator closely monitors Scottish Water’s performance. The regulations in place ensure that Scottish Water maintains the drinking water’s quality, specifically focusing on preventing the presence of substances at concentrations that could pose a danger to human health.
In addition to these measures, Scottish Water plays an active role as a member of the One Health Breakthrough Partnership (OHBP). OHBP, funded by the Scottish Government, serves as a platform that brings together key stakeholders from the water, environment, and healthcare sectors. The partnership is committed to addressing pharmaceutical pollution in the environment through source control measures. By actively participating in OHBP, Scottish Water demonstrates its dedication to collaborative efforts in tackling the challenges associated with pharmaceutical contamination.
Through ongoing discussions with Scottish Water, engagement in the Chemical Investigation Programme, and membership in the One Health Breakthrough Partnership, the Scottish Government reinforces its commitment to addressing the potential presence and impact of pharmaceuticals in water. These collaborative endeavours highlight the collective determination to safeguard water quality and protect the environment for the benefit of all.