WASHINGTON D.C. (LEARFIELD) – A new bill introduced by Minnesota Senator Tina Smith would implement strategies to better prepare for and prevent widespread health outbreaks.

Smith says the so-called “one health” approach is geared toward outbreaks of animal-related illness and has to start with a new mindset.

“This isn’t an issue of animal health and human health. We need to look at it holistically and we need to train the workforce to do that, we need to encourage that kind of coordination,” said Smith. “And we need to advance our understanding of how these connections between animal and human health develop.”

Smith says she saw issues with outbreak response first hand when avian flu hit Minnesota during her time as Lieutenant Governor. She says her bill would provide stronger links between state and federal health response agencies.

“We want to make sure that that kind of coordination is happening, and give the federal agencies capacities to be leads on that in ways that I think are going to be very important,” Smith added.

She says the bill has bipartisan support and is optimistic about its chances to pass.