One Health at work - The Wildlife Health and Ecology unit of FAO’s EMPRES Animal Health integrates One Health concepts at the national and local level to improve understanding of disease ecology to prevent diseases that see no species barrier between livestock, wildlife and humans.
24 October 2012 - The EMPRES Animal Health-Wildlife Health and Ecology Unit recently held a course entitled “Wildlife Investigation in Livestock Disease and Public Health – An Introductory Training course on One Health” (WILD Training) in Dhaka, Bangladesh, with a number of field visits to villages in the region surrounding the capital. Experts in the fields of veterinary medicine, public health, biology, wildlife and the environment attended 11 days of intensive hands-on training in ‘One Health’ with a specific focus on Bangladesh - specific zoonoses – diseases that can pass from animals to humans – and environmental issues at the animal-human-ecosystems interface. More than 30 participants came from the departments responsible for Livestock, Health and Forestry, as well as colleagues from NGOs, national universities and research institutes.
The course included lectures, multiple problem-based learning activities, group presentations and a variety of field site visits.
During the field trips, the participants visited live animal markets, slaughterhouses, a district hospital, a national park, a safari park under development and a traditional domestic duck and goose farm. They also visited a village affected by Nipah virus, where participants had the opportunity to interview a survivor, as well as nearby collection points for date palm sap and a large Pteropus bat colony site, under which villagers continue to live even after the 2005 outbreaks. Nipah virus was passed from bats, a reservoir for the disease, via bat fluids and excretions to the sap which is collected in open vats latched onto the trees. People were infected by drinking virus-contaminated raw sap. Normally the sap is a much appreciated treat in Bangladesh.
These real life scenarios challenged participants to identify risk points at the interface where live animals, humans and their environment intermix, to work collaboratively across their different technical backgrounds to address health, biosecurity, disease transmission, livelihoods, poverty, food safety, and environmental contamination in a multitude of agro-ecological systems. The trainees plan to continue collaboration across sectors upon returning to their respective districts and jobs. This grass-roots level training provides the background for problem solving health and environmental issues within a ‘One Health framework’ that will be useful for future work and has applications for young professionals on a daily basis.
This course has been delivered previously in four regional African trainings, one Southeast Asian regional training held in Thailand, and in China. In the future, the EMPRES Animal Health - Wildlife Health and Ecology Unit aims to facilitate additional training on the important role that biodiversity, wildlife and functional ecosystems play in maintaining the health of humans and livestock.