FAO in Uganda

Uganda strengthens multi-sectoral One Health approach: Stakeholders trained on the use of joint risk assessment tool



Uganda joined other countries in Africa to pilot the Tripartite Joint Risk Assessment (JRA) operational tool, an instrument jointly developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to support multi-sectoral risk assessment for zoonotic threats at the human- animal-environmental interface. This major step in implementing a One Health approach to disease prevention and management happened during a workshop held from 2-6 December 2019 at Source of the Nile Hotel in Jinja, Uganda.

The workshop brought together different sector players in Uganda to discuss and assess the interactions and related health risks at the human-animal-environmental interface and what could be the possible mitigation measures. Participants included officials from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, non-governmental organizations and academia.

The first two days focused on training national facilitators and empowering them with information and skills about joint risk assessment as well as introducing them to the JRA tool practical exercises.

During the opening ceremony for the National JRA Pilot Workshop, the FAO Representative in Uganda, Antonio Querido, recognized the efforts of the national One Health coordination approach, thanking FAO, OIE and WHO for developing the zoonotic guide to be used by countries in multi-sectoral One Health coordination.

Dr Henry Mwebesa, the Acting Director General- Health Services in the Ministry of Health noted that the Joint Risk Assessment is a clear manifestation of the country’s efforts towards embracing the One Health approach in tackling some of the complex health challenges in Uganda. In a statement read for him by Dr Patrick Tusiime, the Commissioner- Communicable Diseases Control at the Ministry of Health, he noted:

“In the last five years, Uganda has experienced a number of zoonotic diseases outbreaks and ranging from Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever, Marburg, Rift Valley Fever, Anthrax and Ebola. The first step to decreasing zoonotic disease threats is understanding why and where risks exist. This understanding can only be built through national level joint risk assessments, bringing together information on humans, animals and the environment so that it can be assessed jointly by the national animal health and public health sectors, and other relevant sectors” the Minister said.

 In a speech read for him by WHO Senior Epidemiologist, Dr Jayne Tusiime, WHO Representative in Uganda- Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, emphasized the importance of the systematic application of quality control systems following the WHO, FAO, and OIE guidelines as critical in ensuring risk management decisions. Recognizing the serious consequences of Emerging Infectious Diseases, he called for development of thoughtful strategies to prevent and control diseases, taking into account economic, cultural, technological, and logistical issues encountered in developing countries.

During the practical sessions, participants had an opportunity to use the JRA tool to address the three hazards identified as candidates for this Pilot Joint Risk Assessment; namely: Rabies, Rift Valley Fever and Anthrax. The results from the groups were the then presented on the last day of the workshop and the way forward agreed upon for the routine use of JRA in Uganda.

Participants were very grateful to FAO and the tripartite organizations for such a wonderful tool that makes it easy to get data for decision-making following a One Health Approach.

The meeting recommended the need to further extrapolate the JRA to sub-national level and conduct more risk assessments on other priority zoonotic diseases that include brucellosis, Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic fever (CCHF), highly pathogenic avian influenza and Ebola Virus Disease.