By Gladys Mahiti and Mourice N. Mbunde
Group photo of delegates with Hon. Kassim Majaliwa, Prime Minister of the United Republic of Tanzania. Delegates included Ministers, Vice Chancellors and OHCEA focal persons.
The 13th of February 2018, was the greatest day ever for One Health in Tanzania. On this day, the Prime Minister of Tanzania Hon. Kassim Majaliwa officially launched the One Health Coordination Desk and the National One Health Strategic Plan (OHSP 2015 – 2020) in order to push the One Health agenda forward and to enable Tanzania to be better placed to detect, prevent and respond to the emerging pandemic threats in the country. The ceremony took place in the Karimjee Hall and its grounds in Dar es Salaam.
The Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) and the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), being among the pioneers of One Health workforce strengthening in Tanzania, were represented at the ceremony by a very strong delegation. This consisted of the Vice Chancellors of MUHAS and SUA, the Focal Persons of One Health Central and Eastern Africa (OHCEA) network, the Dean of the School of Public Health and Social Sciences at MUHAS where OHCEA is based, other deans and exhibitors at the occasion. The event was attended by approximately 80 participants, among them; Ministers, representatives from government departments and agencies from Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar (PMOs, MHCDGEC, MALF, MTNR, Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, National Environment Management Council, training and research institutions, Ministry of Finance), US government agencies (USAID, CDC, DTRA), UN agencies (WHO, FAO & WFP), USAID Implementing Partners (Preparedness & Response, PREDICT2, FAO), and medical and veterinary professional associations among others.
The main objective of the launch was to raise the profile of One Health approach in Tanzania and advocate for greater buy-in and support by the government and stakeholders. Increased support will enhance collaboration among sectors to prevent, detect and respond to existing and emerging pandemic threats. In his speech at the launch ceremony, the Prime Minister reiterated that “the launching of the strategic plan is expected to guide and provide a road map to the future of collaborative efforts of multiple health science professions, together with their related disciplines and institutions – working locally, nationally, and globally – to attain optimal health for people, domestic animals, wildlife, plants, and the environment”.
The launch of the OHSP & OHCD has underscored the government of Tanzania and its partners’ commitment to a paradigm shift in how the country should detect, prevent, and respond to emerging infectious disease threats. The launch has also formally given the One Health Coordination Desk authority to play its coordination role of creating momentum for institutionalizing the One Health approach in Tanzania.
The ceremony was graced by many speeches from One Health stakeholders but the vote of thanks from the Minister for Health of Zanzibar touched the audience deeply as he underscored the importance of the One Health Coordination Desk for Tanzania. He urged the desk to ensure that it extends the One Health collaborative efforts to Zanzibar since health threats of concern do not recognize borders.
Just before the launch, the Guest of Honour with his delegation as well as key invited guests and development partners viewed posters, banners and One Health-related materials which were displayed in exhibition booths prepared for the occasion. The Guest of Honour very much appreciated the many achievements made by the One Health networks including OHCEA, SACIDS and PREDICT, in their efforts to implement One Health-related activities particularly those that led to the development of the strategic plan.
Dr. Gladys Mahiti told the Prime Minister that OHCEA has registered many achievements in Tanzania including mapping of One Health workforce in Tanzania, building capacity for pre-service and in-service personnel through short courses and establishing Kilosa District as a One Health demonstrating site for practical learning of how One Health works in real world situations. She informed the Premier that OHCEA had developed One Health modules for incorporating into different university programmes and curricula as well as into the certificate and diploma training levels in human and animal health training institutions.
During the launch and in their speeches, international development partners affirmed their commitments to the One Health agenda and agreed to collaborate with the desk (OHCD) to ensure effective and successful implementation of its planned activities in the strategic plan for the betterment of human, animal and environmental health.