OHBP Background

Developed in 2017 in the Highlands of Scotland, the One Health Breakthrough Partnership (OHBP) brings together key regional and national stakeholders across the water, environment, and healthcare sectors who are committed to addressing the emerging environmental issue of pharmaceutical pollution. This cross-sector initiative aims to stimulate innovation and impact to help achieve optimal health for people, animals, and our environment, following a One Health approach.

The OHBP is formed by the National Health Service (NHS) Highland, the Environmental Research Institute (ERI) of the University of the Highlands and Islands, Scottish Water, and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). These agencies make up the OHBP steering group, and you can read more about here.

The presence of pharmaceutical residues in the environment is recognised internationally as an important public health and environmental issue (click here for more information). We have a key focus on addressing this issue through knowledge exchange and cross-sector public, private, and academic engagement. Together we are looking to develop sustainable “up-stream” solutions to minimise pharmaceuticals entering wastewater and surface water, and reduce the environmental impact of our healthcare practices. Thus benefitting society, the economy, the environment, and contributing to net-zero and sustainability targets in Scotland.

Our objectives are to:

  • Improve healthcare practices and reduce environmental pollution
  • Influence and develop evidence-based policy
  • Drive research and innovation

We have a vision for a “Non-toxic environment“, and are carrying out our mission through “up-stream” interventions to reduce inappropriate medicine disposal and encourage social prescribing; supporting research and development into sustainable at-source treatment of the most polluted wastewaters; and facilitating baseline work to understand the current presence of pharmaceuticals in the Scottish water environment.

The partnership is focused on delivering high-impact activity demonstrating tangible environmental and real-world gains, and has attracted over £300k of research funding from external sources including the Scottish Government’s Hydro Nation Scholars Programme, European Social Fund, and Scottish Funding Council. This has supported research activity into areas such as monitoring pharmaceutical pollution, low-carbon and sustainable at-source treatment methods, eco-directed formulary development, blue-green prescribing, and antimicrobial resistance in the environment. The OHBP is leveraging the suitability of the Highland region to develop and pilot these activities, which could produce national and international impacts and opportunities and has already demonstrated knowledge exchange and real-world impact.

Check out our Outputs page to read more about our research, projects, and other activity for our pioneering work.


OHBP significance to Scotland

Our work clearly aligns with the Scottish National Performance Framework Outcomes and strategies for the environment, climate change, and energy. We are engaging closely with the Scottish Government to assess the need for a policy statement and potential regulation on pharmaceuticals entering the Scottish environment. Through this collaboration, we look to establish a hub of expertise and activity in the One Health-water interface that will offer services and advice to develop evidence-based policy, and promote Scotland as a global leader in this field.

Alongside the climate emergency, the Scottish Government has recognised that the enormous challenges brought by Coronavirus reinforces the need to build an economy “that supports Scotland’s wellbeing and transition towards a greener, net zero country”. Through our work to reduce environmental pollution, protect natural resources, and promote sustainable healthcare practices, the OHBP is contributing to Scotland’s Green Recovery plan.

The OHBP and it’s individual organisations support the Scottish Government strategic priority to create a greener, healthier, and more successful country with opportunities for all to flourish through increasing sustainable economic growth and future-proofing services. 


OHBP Context

One Health and Water

Pharmaceuticals in the Environment