Africa: Launch of a joint action plan for the promotion of one health at COP27 #AfricaClimateHope

Sharm el-Sheikh — Africa’s public health systems, with often poor infrastructure, are overburdened and lack the equipment and medicines needed to treat patients

The climate crisis, coupled with extreme weather conditions, has created conditions conducive to the emergence of infectious diseases such as new breeding grounds for malaria, dengue and other diseases. It has meant an overhaul of healthcare in the face of the challenges of the climate emergency.

A coalition of health emergency partners is working to reform the continent’s current crisis response system. One Health is “the leading approach to addressing the complex health challenges facing our society, such as ecosystem degradation, food system failures, infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance,” the organization’s joint statement reads. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) . The four key health and agriculture organizations have worked together to be better prepared to prevent, predict, detect and respond to global health threats and promote sustainable development.

Amina Benyaha, Scientist at WHO One Health Initiative (OHI), Healthier Population Division Office, gave some background on the initiative. “We all know that One Health is not a new concept. It was already on the international agenda but Covid-19 really reinforced its importance. It was Covid-19 that really reminded us of the importance of adopting this One Health approach With an increasing number of multidimensional challenges, water, energy, food security and biodiversity, really needs to take charge of this in terms of collaboration, coordination, communication, but also the strengthening of health capabilities.

The One Health Joint Action Plan (2022-2026) aims to improve the health of humans, animals, plants and the environment while contributing to sustainable development. The five-year plan describes six courses of action:

  • capacity building of One Health to strengthen health systems;
  • reduce the risks of emerging and re-emerging zoonotic epidemics and pandemics;
  • control and eliminate endemic zoonoses, neglected tropical diseases and vector-borne diseases;
  • strengthen food safety risk assessment, management and communication;
  • curbing the silent pandemic of antimicrobial resistance; and
  • integrating the environment into One Health.

According to the WHO, the technical action plan is supported by research, industry standards and current recommendations. It covers a range of initiatives to improve One Health at international, regional and local levels. One of these initiatives is the creation of an upcoming implementation guide for nations, global partners and non-state entities such as civil society organizations, professional associations, universities and institutes of research.

why it matters

As climate change worsens, the world faces a number of health threats. A high-level panel comprised of speakers from international organizations, universities and governments came together to discuss how environmental challenges such as the climate crisis can be addressed from a One Health perspective.

“Environmental degradation has direct or indirect negative consequences on human and animal health. We can take the example of changes in land use, deforestation, loss of biodiversity and production and sustainable agricultural intensification, among other factors. They really threaten the integrity of the ecosystem and pose a real problem. Increased health risks to the human-animal, plant-environment interface. These risks are compounded by increasing urbanization and patterns of food production and consumption, including an increasingly complex food chain, poor waste management and disposal, increased trade and travel as well as the climate crisis,” Benyaha said.

Dr. Maria Neira, Director of the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health, World Health Organization, spoke about the environmental determinants of One Health, saying its implementation is often still very underdeveloped. explored, particularly when it comes to ensuring that it is fully integrated into all levels of collaboration nationally and internationally. She said that 25% of the global burden of disease is related to environmental risk factors.

Dr Zitouni Ould-Dada, Deputy Director of the Climate and Environment Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, said that “things in the real world are integrated, connected in this way. And we have to reflect that in our work”. and through One Health which provides this opportunity… One Health needs to be inclusive, multi-sectoral and certainly needs to go beyond experts, we need a whole of government and also whole of society approach to let only one health be efficacious.”

One Health Global Coordinator, at the World Organization for Animal Health, Dr Chadia Wannous said that “our role is to integrate the environment in all our standards and all our codes and standards that we provide to countries to strengthen their animal health services and their veterinary services. We also promote our smart agriculture climate, and veterinary services, we all have a role to play here to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the animal health sector.We can do this by making our services more climate-friendly, smart and eco-friendly. environment. And we can do this through the training of our health personnel, as well as the environment and human health sector, we can also invest in energy and infrastructure, and technology to reduce shows.”

Dianna Kopansky, the policy and program expert on peatlands, forests and ecosystems at the United Nations Environment Program added that “we are in an action phase. I just want to say that this is not not really complex because I think what we are trying to do is also try to understand it from our different places and spaces. But we are all people. And we depend on nature. It is the food that we we eat, it’s the water we drink, it’s the air we breathe and it’s the places we live in, and those places we love, so I want to sum that up and that means everyone has to going back to prevention… a healthy relationship with nature and really understanding the impact of its decisions. And the work that we all do collectively must be done together.”

This article was produced as part of the Climate Change Media Partnership 2022, a journalism fellowship organized by Internews’ Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Center for Peace and Security

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