FAO marks 3 November, the first One Health Day
One Health Day is a day of declaration and action to bring global attention to the crucial need and benefits of using transdisciplinary approaches to complex health challenges involving animals, people, and their shared ecosystems.
Recent outbreaks of West Nile Virus, Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever, SARS, Monkeypox, Mad Cow Disease and Avian Influenza remind us that human and animal health are intimately connected; this demands a unity of approach achievable only through a consilience of human, domestic animal and wildlife health - One Health.
Worldwide, activities and events will give scientists, medical and veterinary practitioners, as well as educators and advocates a powerful, unified voice for moving beyond current regional approaches to emerging infectious diseases, food safety and security, antimicrobial resistance, invasive species, environmental pollution, loss of biodiversity, and many other health challenges.
FAO Chief Veterinary Officer, Juan Lubroth, believes that “there will be another epidemic spilling over from animals to humans in the very near future. But since we do not know what or when or where, preparation and detection efforts are critical to make sure this outbreak does not cause the devastation we have recently witnessed; and critical for this is a One Health approach whereby the weaker links of a resilient society are strengthened".
One Health approach
Health experts from around the world met on 29 September, 2004, in Manhattan New York City, for a symposium organized by Wildlife Conservation Society on the current and potential movements of diseases among human, domestic animal, and wildlife populations. Using case studies on Ebola, Avian Influenza, and Chronic Wasting Disease as examples, the assembled expert panellists delineated priorities for an international, interdisciplinary approach for combating threats to the health of life on Earth.
The Manhattan Principles on “One World, One Health” recommended a more holistic approach to preventing epidemic, epizootic disease and for maintaining ecosystem integrity for the benefit of humans, their domesticated animals, and the foundational biodiversity that supports us all.
FAO One Health Strategy builds on lesson learned
FAO has undertaken a number of activities at the national and regional levels as part as One Health engagements. This includes developed intersectoral and interdisciplinary approaches and applied research.
FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa, Bukar Tijani, recognizes that “addressing zoonoses requires bridging complex issues such as nutrition and health, food security and safety, animal production and health, agro-ecosystems and land use policies, rural development, value chains and markets drivers of disease emergence and spread, multiple stakeholders - public and private”.
"In this context, the One Health initiative in the ECOWAS region can serve as a model for other to follow because we attach great importance to regional cooperation, partnership and international solidarity on such transboundary issues, especially when everyone's health is at stake", he added.
The need for the highest-level political commitment to the One Health Approach in West Africa was reinforced by the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak of 2014-2016 with a death toll of more than 11 000, and its necessity is further validated by the increasing threat posed by the ongoing avian influenza outbreaks in the sub-region.
Countries have strengthened partnerships among various sectors and with those global institutions such as FAO, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), as well as partners, including the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the West Africa Health Organization (WAHO) with the newly established ECOWAS Regional Centre for Disease Surveillance and Control (RCSDC), towards making progress in addressing and reducing risks at the human-animal environment interface.
With a view to reinforcing the One Health approach in West Africa, WHO, FAO, OIE, WAHO RAHC, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the World Bank, will convene a four-day health technical and ministerial meeting in Dakar, Senegal, from 8 to 11 November 2016.
The high-level ministerial session on 11 November will aim at fostering adoption and implementation of the One Health initiative in West Africa in order to further strengthen prevention, detection and response to emerging infectious disease threats, including zoonoses and Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).
Some facts on FAO Delivering One Health in Africa
The region routinely faces threats and socio-economic consequences of epidemics caused by zoonotic diseases, such as viral haemorrhagic fevers (Ebola, Marburg, Rift Valley fever, Lassa, Lujo), yellow fever, influenza, plague, anthrax and other animal diseases that are not zoonotic but affect people’s nutrition and livelihoods, like foot-and-mouth disease, peste des petits ruminants, African swine fever or Newcastle Disease.
FAO over the period has participated in international fora to promote One Health and collected information and data to develop One Health tools and guidelines. FAO conducted a Regional Field Epidemiology Training Programme for Veterinarian (FETPV) and Integrated other components related to wildlife, socio-economics and communications.
On Avian influenza H5N1, H1N1, H7N9, FAO actively engages in preparedness and response, conduct simulation exercise and Joint risk assessment. For Rift Valley fever, a preparedness and response programme is in place with simulation exercise and Early Warning detection efforts such as remote satellite imagery analysis or sentinel flock surveillance. For Anthrax, FAO provides Guidelines on surveillance and response as well as understanding of the risk factors.