One Health approach in West and Central Africa – World
Human, animal and environmental health are intrinsically linked. This has been demonstrated during recent zoonotic epidemics in West Africa, notably Ebola, anthrax and highly pathogenic avian influenza. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Emergency Center for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD), with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) , promotes the adoption of the interdisciplinary One Health approach. The approach strengthens systems at national, regional and global levels – recognizing the common health of humans, animals and the environment – to prevent, detect and respond to disease threats.
On November 3, the annual Health Day celebrations engaged individuals, governments and organizations from different sectors in the West and Central Africa region to make the necessary cultural, behavioral and institutional changes. to meet and assess health challenges and threats at the animal-human-ecosystem interface level. Participation and involvement in awareness campaigns as in Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire, where FAO ECTAD participated in the national fair to connect stakeholders working in the One Health space to strengthening training sessions national capacities as in Burkina Faso, where 16 veterinary technicians and 44 district medical staff received frontline One Health FETP training to tackle emerging animal diseases. Also in Burkina Faso, the establishment of a national One Health platform was an important achievement. FAO ECTAD has constantly supported this process, for which the regulatory texts of the National One Health Coordination Platform of Burkina Faso were recently validated.
In other countries, such as Liberia, the One Health coordination platform has reduced the risk of new emerging pandemics by strengthening capacities to prevent, prepare for, detect and respond to known and emerging public health threats due at the interface between humans, animals and the environment. Endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO), FAO and the Global Health Security Agenda partnership, the platform has been successful in raising awareness of emerging One Health issues in the country, such as rabies prevention. , Joint Investigations on Zoonoses and Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).
One Health Approach
In 2016, Burkina Faso, Niger, Ghana and other countries in West Africa experienced an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 (H5N1 HPAI) which could have caused a pandemic in the human population. As stated by Baba Soumare, FAO ECTAD Regional Director for West and Central Africa, “This situation illustrates the importance of adopting an interdisciplinary One Health approach to multisectoral preparedness, evaluation. risk and management when it comes to dealing with disease problems ”. Countries identified as “hot spots” for disease emergence in the West and Central Africa region have demonstrated the benefits of One Health coordination between the medical, veterinary, agricultural and environmental sectors.
For example, although Senegal and Mali did not experience outbreaks of HPAI (subtypes H5N1 and H5N8) in 2016-2017, in May 2018 FAO ECTAD organized a cross-border simulation exercise aimed at assess capacity and preparedness in addition to strengthening collaboration between the two countries in preparedness and response to epidemics, involving HPAI and other cross-border infectious diseases.
The joint exercise involved doctors, veterinarians and environmental health experts. This made it possible to develop contingency plans and joint surveillance programs for the two countries in order to respond to potential outbreaks of HPAI.
FAO ECTAD has provided technical support to the Veterinary Services Directorate (VSD) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) in Ghana to celebrate International One Health Day since 2017 to include ministries, partners in development, non-governmental organizations, hospitals, universities, research institutes and the private sector in commemorations. This year, in collaboration with WHO and USAID Breakthrough Action, FAO will celebrate One Health Day to involve as many people as possible in as many arenas as possible in One Health education and awareness events and to generate a inspiring array of projects around the world.
This year, One Health Day allowed experts and the community to come together in education, coordination and collaborative activities among partners working in the field of animal, human and environmental health, as well as others. relevant partners. Health approach. As Baba Soumaré put it, “all stakeholders must team up against these threats”.
Only by working together can we have the greatest impact in improving the health of people, animals and our common environment in the West and Central Africa region.