The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), jointly with other international and regional partners, promotes a holistic and multidisciplinary approach to advocate for the much needed One Health initiative in the West African region.
For FAO, the One Health approach is a prerequisite for ensuring public and animal health security, building agro-ecological resilience, protecting biodiversity, and ensuring efficient use of natural resources and the safety of food supply chains.
In the African context, the Ebola virus disease caused tens of thousands of deaths and negatively affected socio-economic activities of communities and countries for months from 2014 to 2016. The implementation of One Health approach is crucial now, as further evidenced by the increasing threat posed by re-emergence of the zoonotic highly pathogenic avian influenza due to H5N1 virus that is rapidly spreading in West and Central Africa with a potential to cause significant negative socio-economic impact and a major threat to public health.
“FAO strongly believes that the fight against animal diseases, including zoonotic emerging diseases, require tackling them at their animal source“, said the FAO Representative a.i. in Senegal, Patrick David, at the opening of the One Health Technical and Ministerial meetings on zoonotic diseases and related public health threats (8-11 November 2016, Dakar).
“I believe this meeting will enable us to be a milestone in the formulation of an agenda for the effective and sustainable implementation of the One Health approach”, he added.
Discussion for an effective agenda
“Despite the significant progress made by the subregion, the health situation in ECOWAS member States is still characterized by the burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases, as well as the emerging and/or re-emerging diseases in the context of inadequate health systems”, remarked Xavier Crespin, WAHO General Manager, adding further details on the significant activities WAHO is implementing today through its Strategic Plan 2016-2020, including the effective establishment of the Regional Center for Prevention and Disease Control.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in Senegal, Deo Nshimirimana, countries should imperatively have the necessary capacities to monitor, detect, assess, report and declare cases, in order to organize the response.
On his part, Karim Tounkara, OIE Regional Representative for Africa, stated that the subregion is characterized by unprecedented movements of people and goods, causing rapid movements of pathogens. “These people and goods have transported pathogens faster than the average incubation period of most epizootic diseases, inducing the emergence and re-emergence of many zoonotic diseases, against which a new approach is needed.”
On the first day of the meeting, participants and authorities all agreed on the need of a new approach and for the efforts to be enlarged. The meeting is expected to submit the recommendations on the One Health agenda for West Africa to Ministers’ approbation during the high-level ministerial session to take place on 11 November 2016.
About the high-level ministerial meeting
The high-level ministerial session, convened by WHO, FAO, OIE, WAHO RAHC, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Bank, aims 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).Distributed by APO on behalf of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).