FAO focuses on strengthening One Health preparedness and response capacities and capacities in Africa – World


One Health national platforms discuss lessons learned and best practices on operationalizing the joint risk assessment tool during a two-day meeting

July 8, 2021–Health challenges at the human-animal-environment interface, such as zoonotic diseases (e.g., avian influenza, rabies, Ebola, and Rift Valley fever) as well as diseases of origin Food and antimicrobial resistance account for more than three quarters of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases and pose a serious threat to animal and public health.

The first step to reducing zoonotic disease threats is to understand where and why the risks exist. Historically, each sector has applied its own specific tools and processes to investigate outbreaks, monitor and assess zoonotic disease risks. Today, multi-sectoral approaches and tools have highlighted the need for multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral collaboration, coordination and cooperation between the human, animal and environmental sectors to implement the One Health approach. In this context, the tripartite collaboration between the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) is working together to develop a global guide such as the Guide to Control Zoonotic Diseases and standard tools. to ensure a consistent and harmonized approach across the world. These standard tools include operational tools for conducting the Joint Risk Assessment (JRA), among others, which enable each sector to have a holistic understanding and integrated analysis of risks, joint identification of solutions and their implementation. implemented, with stronger global commitment.

Despite COVID-19, across the African continent, several countries in the One Health platform have expressed interest in facilitating the JRA training tool before the end of 2021. So far, 18 countries in the region have been trained and One Health platforms in Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Senegal and Tanzania used the tool after the training to respond to health issues raised at the environment-animal interface (domestic, wildlife wild) and human.

To this end, from July 8-9, 2021, the six One Health country platforms mentioned above came together virtually in a meeting to discuss lessons learned and best practices from country experiences in operationalizing the joint risk assessment tool and to explore how to improve the use of the JRA tool and apply best practices.

Implementation of the Joint Risk Assessment Tool in Africa

To adequately assess the risk of zoonotic disease, antimicrobial resistance, food safety, or any health threat at the environment-animal (domestic, wildlife)-human interface, a variety of hazard information, epidemiological, environmental, climate-related, human and animal (domestic, wildlife) among others must be considered. This disease-specific information can then be shared and assessed jointly by national animal health (domestic, wildlife) and public health sectors, and other stakeholders. However, to do this effectively, sectors need to agree on a standard approach and process and be guided by best practice. Historically, the animal health and human health sectors have had different goals in carrying out risk assessments, different approaches, processes and definitions have evolved in each sector. But thanks to a successful tripartite collaboration, the joint risk assessment tool represents a compromise between the approaches, processes and terminology generally used for risk assessment by the animal health and public health sectors.

The JRA approach was first tested in Indonesia in March 2018, based on zoonotic influenza and other national priority zoonoses (rabies and leptospirosis). To facilitate the large-scale deployment of the tool, Dakar organized the first African regional facilitator training on the use of the JRA tool in 2019.

The results and recommendations of the operationalization of the JRA are used by the national One Health platforms to launch the update of their preparedness and response plans. This joint exercise also helped strengthen multi-sector collaboration and coordination in national preparedness and response to any public health threat. It has been widely welcomed as an important part of implementing the One Health approach to address shared health threats at the human-animal-environment interface such as zoonoses and antimicrobial resistance (AMR ).

During the closing ceremony, Jeff Gilbert, Global Program Coordinator of the Emergency Center for Transboundary Animal Diseases at FAO, encouraged “the deployment of this tool in simulations, which is essential in an epidemic emergency. “. He also added that “the JRA can be used at the high-level decision-making level to modify and adopt new policies in order to assess risks at the national level. The next pandemic could come from Africa and having this tool could help prevent it”.

Andrew Hollands of the United States Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) said, “It was an exceptional meeting and I would like to thank the participating countries and partners for their commitment and support in making One Health a reality on the continent and to coordinate successfully around this approach.

In his remarks, Ricardo Echalar, representative of Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) East and Central Africa thanked the participants and said, “I hope this session will lead to continued discussions among participating countries on best practices and lessons learned “.

Explore the way forward

It is not easy to know the best way to build integrated structures and systems to control zoonotic diseases in each situation, given the diversity of countries and contexts. In order to make these structures and systems more sustainable and effective, One Health country platforms discussed lessons learned and best practices on operationalizing the joint risk assessment tool during the meeting. They also identified priority areas of focus to improve the use of the JRA tool and apply best practices. The following areas are: a) Advocacy at high level to accelerate the use of the JRA tool at all times b) Mobilization of national resources for the implementation of the JRA recommendations, c) Monitoring of the implementation of the recommendations of the JRA and d) Operationalization of the JRA at the sub-national level.

This meeting within the framework of the project for the sustainable operationalization of One Health in the FAO Africa region, funded by the DTRA, strengthens the One Health preparedness and response capacity and the capacity of the beneficiary countries.

For more information


Serge Nzietchueng
One Health Coordinator
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Representation of Kenya
Block P – Level 3 | United Nations Complex Gigiri
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +254 115024390

Yanira Santana
Emergency Reporting and Outreach Specialist
FAO ECTAD Africa Office Email: [email protected]

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