World Health Organization has urged African leaders, doctors, health ministers and stakeholders to design health systems and services that account for the interlinkages between human, animal and environmental aspects.
This has been disclosed during the inaugural week of the One Health Day that is aimed at improving the prevention and management of public health emergencies and threats. The new approach was inaugurated in Congo Brazzaville on November 3 as an auspice for next week’s WHO Africa Region convention that will take place as the West Africa Regional Conference on One Health in Dakar Senegal from November 8-11.
In Dakar more than 200 policymakers, experts and civil society advocates including 17 ministers of human and animal health will be discussing the importance of designing health systems and programs that incorporate the One Health approach which aims at preventing diseases in animals and environment before they spread to humans and become global crises.
One Health approach is expected to be vital in the implementation of WHO’s Regional Strategy on Health Security and Emergencies from 2016 to 2020 agreed on at the 66th session of the organization’s Regional Committee for Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in August.
WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti says that health security and emergency preparedness are issues too big to be handled by any one stakeholder, organization or country as well too important for us to keep waiting.
“We need to identify obstacles, resource gaps and ultimately create a sub-regional roadmap for preventing and combating zoonotic diseases and other public health threats using the One Health approach,” he noted.
The new approach is expected to recede the infectious pathogenic pathways that persistently spread diseases between animals and humans which represent 75% of emerging infections. Ebola was spread from only one infected child to many through contact with an infected animal that is not specified going on to killing 11000 and infecting more than 28,000 people in 10 countries. West Africa keeps grappling with other strains of zoonotic diseases including avian influenza in Cameroon, Nigeria; the Rift Valley Fever in Niger, and the vector-borne threats such as a Zika virus strain spreading from Brazil that is to Cabo Verde and Guinea-Bissau.
The conference will address such emergencies by the approval of the implementation of strategies that prevent and treat threats across that region. The One Health approach will from there be decentralized to implementation at the country and sub-regional levels.
The conference is being co-hosted by WHO in collaboration with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission including the West African Health Organization (WAHO) and Regional Animal Health Centre (RAHC), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the World Bank, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).