Report of highlights 2nd OHCEA International One Health Conference

Monday, 7 December 2015 - 1:48pm

The Second OHCEA International One Health conference was held on 16-18 November, 2015 at Speke Resort Munyonyo. This meeting attracted over 400 scholars, students, development partners and governmental organizations among others. A number of countries were represented in this gathering. These included: Canada, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda United States of America, Indonesia, Thailand, Qatar, Italy-Rome, Malaysia and Vietnam.

OHCEA 5 YEAR COMMEMORATION

Picture of cake cutting

OHCEA celebrated its 5 year landmark by participating in a dinner organized for all the conference participants on 16th November, 2015. This special event was punctuated with a number of speeches from OHCEA, SEAHOUN and US partners which culminated into a cake cutting ceremony to commemorate the birth of OHCEA five years ago.

One Health Central and Eastern Africa was established on 17 October,  2010 at a historic meeting facilitated by USAID with participants drawn from the seven schools of Public Health, seven Faculties of Veterinary Medicine, US partner universities (Tufts University and University of Minnesota), and RESPOND project staff. The network recruited two staff, a Program Manager and an Administrator housed in one room at the Makerere School of Public Health. The challenge then was establishing structures at the Secretariat and at the six country offices manned by dedicated Focal Persons and Administrators, with support from a Fixed Obligation Grant from RESPOND project. One of the immediate achievements was bringing together Deans of Public Health Schools and Faculties of Veterinary Medicine in each country.  

OHCEA has grown tremendously in the last five years. OHCEA full time staffing levels have increased from 2 members of staff at the regional secretariat to 10 staff and 6 full time country administrators in each of the OHCEA countries. OHCEA has increased its reach from 6 countries of Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Rwanda to West Africa, with the addition of Cameroon as the newest member of the network. OHCEA is currently funded by the USAID Emerging Pandemic Threats II Programme - One Health Workforce Project through its partners, the University of Minnesota and Tufts University. OHCEA continues to build its regional secretariat and country level financial and organizational capability and has been able to attract additional funding. OHCEA will continue to equip the current and future health leaders, who will have the capacity to address current and future global health challenges through the One Health approach.

PARTNERSHIP WITH OTHER EPT II PARTNERS

On Wednesday, 18 November, Preparedness and Response facilitated a side meeting to discuss National One Health platform challenges and opportunities for institutionalizing and operationalizing one Health in Africa.

About the Preparedness and Response Project

The USAID-funded Preparedness and Response (P&R) project’s overall goal is to assist national governments to establish and strengthen systems, policies, and practices for responding effectively to emerging disease threats, especially zoonotic diseases. Working closely with host countries, the project has two primary objectives: help establish and strengthen National One Health Platforms, and support the development, test and implementation of national preparedness plans for public health events of unknown etiology. P&R is part of USAID's Emerging Pandemic Threats 2 Program with partner projects, One Health Workforce and Predict 2. Other program partners include CDC, WHO, and FAO. P&R is also an instrument for USAID to implement the Global Health Security Agenda.

Background

Over the last decade, nations worldwide have been grappling with an increase in emerging and re- emerging diseases at the human, animal, and environmental interface. The pathogens responsible for the emergence or re-emergence of these diseases can spread rapidly, not only nationally but regionally and globally. Recently, the unprecedented Ebola outbreak in West Africa triggered a crisis that, for a period, seemed to evade effective national and international response, with catastrophic results for human health and wellbeing, food security, and economic prosperity. In 2005-2006, facing the threat of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1, most African countries established multi-sectoral committees to help address the threat. When that threat was under control worldwide---and the disease-specific funding that supported these structures diminished or disappeared---these committees disbanded.

Recent outbreak experiences, especially with avian influenza, have spurred increasing recognition of the importance of an ongoing multisectoral effort to proactively address pandemic threats. A One Health approach has been internationally endorsed by FAO, OIE and WHO to improve prevention, detection and response.  Important  questions,  however, still remain  about  how to concretely  institutionalize  and  operationalize  this  approach  in  countries.  In Africa, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Cameroon have made substantial progress toward creating permanent, multi-sectoral mechanisms to pre-empt and manage disease threats with epizootic and epidemic potential.

The institutionalization of One Health in these countries is reflected in the establishment of a functioning, on-going national One Health structure or “platform."  A  National One Health Platform provides government and stakeholders with a mechanism to improve multi-sectoral coordination and collaboration to strengthen the prediction, prevention, detection of and the response to emerging pandemic threats. With One Health an internationally endorsed "best practice," an increasing number of African countries consider One Health approach as a key priority and are working towards  the  creation  of  OH  platforms.  Thus,  at  this  juncture,  it  is especially important to share experiences, challenges, and lessons to date from countries that have established or are in the process of establishing platforms. The panel will provide a forum to highlight and share country experiences, promoting cross-country learning and more informed efforts in countries at the initial stages of implementing a national OH platform.

Goal of meeting

The panel session aimed at fostering greater understanding of the experiences and lessons to date from African countries in establishing and strengthening national One Health platforms through experiences of Uganda, Kenya, Cameroon and Tanzania. The panelists also will highlight lessons and recommendations from their experiences.

Panelists

The panelists included; Dr. Monica Musenero the Assistant Commissioner, Epidemiology and Surveillance Division at the Ministry of Health ( Uganda),  Senator Monique Ouli Ndongo (Cameroon); Dr. Kariuki Njenga, Chief Research Officer, Kenya Medical Research Institute, Kenya and Professor at Paul Allen School for Global Animal Health, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, USA, Prof Robinson Mdegela (Tanzania), and Dr. Geoffrey Kabagambe One  Health  Central  Eastern  Africa  Network  Programme Manager (Uganda).

The meeting was opened by Hon. Bright Rwamirama followed by remarks from the P & R, Africa Deputy Director and Senior Technical Advisor Serge Nzietchueng. This meeting was moderated by Lisa Kramer, USAID Emerging Pandemic Threats Program Regional Advisor.

Highlights of meeting

FAO WORKSHOP: ONE HEALTH APPROACH IN AFRICA-WHAT IS THE ADDED VALUE?

Picture of FAO workshop

FAO in collaboration with OHCEA organised a side event during the 2nd OHCEA International One Health Conference under the theme: “One Health Approach in Africa-What is the added Value?” This session was also part of a series of events that FAO has been organizing with their partners in Africa, central Asia, Eastern Europe and other parts of the world to increase awareness on the One Health approach and its operationalization on the ground.

This specific meeting was held to share experiences, consolidate and clarify strategic direction of the different practitioners within the region with the view that the One Health approach had benefits that could be synergized across different sectors in a bid to improve global health challenges.

The four major areas that were addressed include:

  • National One Health inspired initiatives: benefits and challenges
  • One Health approach to endemic zoonoses
  • One Health approach to emerging diseases of animal origin
  • One Health approach to antimicrobial resistance (AMR)

Participants noted that country experiences were similar in many cases, with slight variations in particular countries whose One Health roadmaps were in advanced stages of set up because of strong structures,  synergies,  strategic plans, leadership, evidence for research, advocacy political commitment and community engagement.

Panelists reiterated the fact that One Health definitely added value to activities through enhancement of coordination, One Health helped in handling diseases continuously, mitigation of outbreaks, promotion of research, promotion of the multi sectoral approaches, increased information sharing and promotes better disease outbreak and response.

Recommendations

  1. A One Health institutional unit comprised of staff from ministries, universities and other implementing agencies be established, and that National Coordination Committees (NCC) be established. Terms of Reference of the committee should be revitalized and revised.
  2. Technical and working groups (TWGs) developed under the NCC.
  3.  Regional governments/states be established with strong collaboration with the federal office.
  4. Line ministries (MoH and MoLF) be strengthened on issues of mutual interest based on the One Health concept. 
  5. One Health strategies be developed and a road map established for sustainable implementation of the strategies.
  6. To promote the One Health Approach countries needed to finalize a One Health Framework for the establishment of a One Health Platform, fast track the formulation of National One Health Policies, include One Health in sector plans and budgets, and strengthen the implementation of One Health activities.
  7. Budget lines needed to be created within the national budget for the promotion of the one health agenda.
  8. Mapping and documentation of ongoing One Health experiences would need to be prioritized.
  9. Carrying out cost-benefit analysis to support advocacy for One Health was necessary in order to attain evidence and be able to address policy makers.
  10. Guidelines of One Health strategy development and implementation in order to discuss what one health could do, goals for assessment of One Health progress and fostering of One Health policy development needed to be put in place.
  11. Also there was a need to note that One Health as a practice needed to go beyond diseases and deal with future health risks. There would also be a need to include expertise like communication and social economics in the promotion of One Health.
  12.  There was a need to identify champions for One Health.

A side meeting was held by ResilientAfrica Innovations in One Health