The One Health Central and Eastern Africa (OHCEA) network
One Health Central and Eastern Africa (OHCEA) is an international network of eleven public health, ten veterinary higher education institutions, one pathobiology institute, one global health institute and one institute of environmental science located in 16 universities in 8 countries in Eastern, Central and Western African region. The Universities included in OHCEA are: Universite des Montagnes and University of Buea (Cameroon), University of Lubumbashi and University of Kinshasa (DRC), Jimma University, Addis Ababa University and Mekelle University (Ethiopia), Moi University and University of Nairobi (Kenya), Université Cheikh Anta Diop (Senegal), Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences and Sokoine University of Agriculture (Tanzania), University of Rwanda and University of Global Health Equity (Rwanda), Makerere University and Mbarara University of Science and Technology (Uganda).
The main US University partners in the OHCEA network are the University of Minnesota and Tufts University.
The One Health approach recognizes that human health, animal health, and ecosystem health are inextricably linked, and that collaboration across the sectors is needed to achieve more rapid, mutually beneficial and effective responses.
Formation of OHCEA
OHCEA was inaugurated on 17 October 2010 at a historic meeting facilitated by USAID with participants drawn from seven schools of public health, seven faculties of veterinary medicine in Eastern Africa and two American partner universities (Tufts University and University of Minnesota), in addition to RESPOND project staff.
OHCEA has its roots in the Leadership Initiative of Public Health in East Africa (LIPHEA) and the Health Alliance, which were being spearheaded by the School of Public Health at Makerere University in Uganda in collaboration with the School of Public Health at the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences in Tanzania since 2005. In 2011, the two schools expanded membership to schools of veterinary medicine in the region to form what came to be known as OHCEA. The mission of LIPHEA was leadership in management of disasters and personnel training. The activities of LIPHEA were funded by USAID through the Higher Education until 2009. The main US partner in the LIPHEA team was the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Inspired by the evolution of One Health, LIPHEA invited schools of veterinary medicine in the region to join hands in the formation of OHCEA which gradually moved from disaster preparedness and response to One Health Workforce (OHW) strengthening in participating countries. Based on opportunities available within the Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT) program, OHCEA quickly became engaged with OHW strengthening in the participating countries. With the formation of OHCEA the total number of schools was expanded to 14 (7 being from the public health area and 7 from the veterinary area) spread into six countries from Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, DRC, and Rwanda.
OHCEA Strategic Goals
- Strengthen a growing institutional network in terms of leadership, governance, technical assistance and information-sharing across countries in order to transform ourselves to deliver One Health.
- Support national agencies to build capacity and efficiency for surveillance, reporting systems and outbreak response in country and across borders.
- Provide pre-service, in-service and community education, training and outreach to expand the size and capabilities of the One Health workforce.
- Build and leverage strategic partnerships with other organizations and networks for mutual awareness and benefit.
- Strengthen infrastructure capacity (Labs, Information Technology, Human resources) and facilitate resource sharing to support One Health.
- Generate evidence based data and share state of the art information to advance training, science and practice, to inform policy.
OHCEA’s strategic approach is leveraging on national, regional and international partnerships to enhance One Health surveillance, reporting and response capacity development; One Health innovations infrastructural development; knowledge management and information sharing and science- education- policy- practice interface. The network works with the eight national governments where it is operational, professional associations in the region including veterinary, nursing, public health and medical associations. OHCEA believes in building strategic and synergistic partnerships. With funding from USAID, the University of Minnesota and Tufts University have supported OHCEA in providing technical support for program implementation. The overall goal of this collaboration is to enhance One Health policy formation and implementation, in order to contribute to improved capacity of countries to respond to any emerging pandemics in the region. The network has also worked with Sandia National Laboratories with financial support from the Defence Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) in the USA to build regional capacity in biorisk management. With funding from International Development Research Centre (IDRC), OHCEA is working with local governments and communities to address community prioritised needs through research, training and innovative interventions. The IDRC support is provided under a project “Managing health risks among communities in and around Queen Elizabeth Conservation Area, Western Uganda using Ecosystem Health approaches”.
OHCEA partner universities are collaborating to build One Health capacity and academic partnerships between the member institutions in the region and with governments. The overall goal of this collaboration is to enhance One Health policy formation and implementation at various levels, in order to contribute to improved capacity of countries to respond to any emerging pandemics in the region.
OHCEA network’s vision is ‘to be a global leader in One Health, promoting sustainable health for prosperous communities, productive animals and balanced ecosystems. OHCEA seeks to expand the human resource base needed to detect and respond to potential pandemic disease outbreaks, and increase integration of animal, wildlife and human disease surveillance and outbreak response systems, through innovative pre-service and in-service programs.
The network’s overall aim is to effect positive and sustained change to address complex global health challenges through trans-disciplinary, One Health approaches. Universities play a critical role in the education and training of current and future One Health Workforce. In addition to their traditionally conceived ‘educational’ role (knowledge transfer), universities undertake primary ‘research’ (generate new knowledge), as well as ‘outreach services’ (translate or extend knowledge).
Formidable Regional One Health Network: OHCEA has provided a platform for building the capacity for One Health in the East, Central and West African region. The platform brings together 24 Schools of Public Health, Veterinary Medicine, Environmental science, and pathobiology in 8 countries. The platform continues to be a springboard for developing One Health workforce in the region, engagement of governments and other strategic stakeholders in workforce planning and development as well as nurturing young talent for One Health.
Collaboration with National Governments in workforce planning: OHCEA in collaboration with the eight national governments, conducted a synthesis of national workforce capacity gaps in the seven member countries. The process entailed an in-depth analysis of capacity gaps using the One Health Systems Mapping and Analysis Resource Toolkit (OH SMART) and generation of a regional workforce development roadmap and workforce packages to guide follow up capacity building actions. It is expected that the education/training institutions will work with government and other partners to implement the follow up actions for improved national capacity for better health services.
Through the Eco-Health project, OHCEA is collaborating with local governments and communities to foster the building of a body of evidence and knowledge, research capacity and interventions needed to tackle health and environmental sustainability problems at the interface of wildlife and livelihoods of vulnerable communities in the region.
One Health Educational Materials: OHCEA has developed 16 One Health modules covering soft and technical skills. These modules are being used to enrich training curricula and courses in the various institutions in the network. The modules are in the area of, 1) One Health Principles and Concepts, 2) Outbreak investigation, response and antimicrobial resistance, 3) Ecosystem health, 4) Gender and emerging pandemic threats, 5) Infectious disease management, 6) One Health leadership, 7) Epidemiology, 8) Risk Analysis, 9) Policy and Advocacy, 10) Culture, Beliefs, Values and Ethics, 11) Research, 12) Systems Thinking, 13) Collaboration and Partnership, 14) Behaviour Change, 15) Management, 16) Communication and Informatics. These can be accessed by clicking on this link
Experiential Learning: OHCEA has pioneered multi-disciplinary One Health experiential learning in the region. While in some OHCEA institutions, single discipline experiential learning is one of the teaching and learning approaches, this is the first time multiple disciplines are learning together for One Health. Various models are being used with results indicating positive changes in the attitude of university students. Several strategies to this have been pioneered, tested and found to be effective. These include global health case competitions, One Health Demo site Field Attachments, participatory field epidemiology trainings, community outreach, among other strategies.
Building capacity in critical areas: While the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a hot-spot for zoonotic disease outbreaks, the country has not had experts in the area of wildlife health and management. Through OHCEA the process of building that capacity has started with two ‘seed’ faculty completed their training at Sokoine University in Tanzania. The two will lead the process of developing a program in Wildlife Health and Management at University of Lubumbashi in DRC. One of the trained faculty is now supporting the newly established Msc.Wildlife Health and Management program at the Ecole Inter Etats de Sciences et Medicine Veterinaires (EISVM)-a regional school of veterinary medicine based in Senegal. This is groundbreaking for the network.
Setting the pace for One Health research: In the year 2016, the network developed a research agenda for One Health in the region which will help address pertinent one health issues including epidemics. The research agenda strategic areas of focus include, bat-transmitted diseases, hemorrhagic fevers, neglected diseases, antimicrobial resistance, biosecurity/biosafety, ecosystem health–non-communicable disease, endemic diseases, and food safety.
A global leader in One Health approaches to sustainable health for healthy; productive animals, prosperous communities and productive ecosystems.
To drive transformational change for continuous improvement of health and well being of humans, animals and ecosystems through multi-displinary research, training and community service.