One Health is an essential approach that recognizes the interconnected nature of human, animal, and environmental health. It plays a significant role in disease prevention, detection, and control, as well as safeguarding the environment, combating antimicrobial resistance, and ensuring food safety and security.
The Global One Health Joint Action Plan stipulates that One Health, as an integrated, multisectoral, holistic and transdisciplinary approach, which has the potential to solve the pressing health challenges.
To discuss this topic further, EMPHNET held a webinar titled “Sustaining Meaningful Multisectoral Collaboration for One Health: Conditions for Success” as part of its WEBi series on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. The 90-minute session featured three subject matter experts namely: Deputy Program Manager of Antimicrobial Resistance, Viral hepatitis, Diarrheal Diseases Control for the Government of Bangladesh, Dr. Aninda Rahman, Head of Communicable Diseases Control Programs, Health Protection & Communicable Diseases Division, Ministry of Public Health, Qatar, Dr. Elmoubasher Farag, and One Health Steering committee Chairperson, Director of Veterinary Public Health Directorate, Ministry of Agriculture, Ethiopia, Dr. Sisay Getachew. The session was moderated by Senior Epidemiologist for Global Health Security, RTI International, Dr. Donal Bisanzio.
Dr. Rahman started his talk by highlighting the importance of adopting One Health approach and the updated definition of one health. He then highlighted the importance of adopting a multisectoral approach and what are the benefits of adopting it, which could help in timely joint response to epidemics and public health events.
He then discussed the challenges hindering sustainable multi-sector collaboration, including divergent goals, power imbalances, communication barriers, competing resources, institutional silos, and lack of legal frameworks. Overcoming these obstacles can lead to timely and effective responses to diseases, shared information, accountability, and efficient use of resources.
Furthermore, he shared the success story of Bangladesh's sustained One Health collaboration, which began in 2008 after a Nipah virus outbreak. Within this example, the establishment of a One Health platform brought together various departments to promote the approach in the country. Bangladesh made significant progress through the formation of committees, launching the One Health Civil Society Platform, and developing a National One Health Strategic Framework and Action Plan.
Dr. Rahman also highlighted exemplary One Health initiatives in Bangladesh, including the Mass Dog Vaccination Program for controlling rabies and successful joint outbreak investigations and management.
He concluded his presentation by mentioning that governments will emerge as a crucial factor for sustaining multi-sector collaboration, with the Honorable Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh's Prime Minister who is an active advocate for One Health and antimicrobial resistance initiatives. Her support has inspired professionals from different sectors to contribute more effectively to One Health initiatives.
From his end, Dr. Elmoubasher Farag, shed light on Qatar's remarkable success in tackling the challenges posed by infectious diseases. Addressing a diverse audience of experts, he emphasized the crucial role of One Health in facilitating a rapid and well-coordinated response to outbreaks.
He discussed the need for a united approach to combat diseases that transcend borders and species. He highlighted the necessity of breaking down silos and fostering collaboration between different sectors, including human health, animal health, and environmental health. He stressed that by doing so, timely and effective responses to emerging diseases could be achieved.
According to him, the Qatar success story began in 2012 when Qatar faced an outbreak of “MERS COV”. Dr. Faarag emphasized that One Health was the backbone of their national response, which swiftly led to the isolation of the virus from both camels and humans. This marked Qatar as the first country worldwide to report MERS COV infection originating from camels.
Despite the success of this experience, Dr. Farag stressed the need for continued efforts. Namely, Stigma associated with zoonotic diseases and gaps in understanding asymptomatic transmission required further attention. Looking to the future, Qatar aims to develop a comprehensive One Health strategy covering leadership, funding, research priorities, and preparedness for potential pandemics.
In the session’s third and final presentation, Dr. Sisay Getachew, shed insight on the country's efforts to establish an effective and sustainable one health coordination platform. Dr. Getachew emphasized the significance of a multi-sectoral approach in tackling complex health challenges and presented practical examples of successful implementation.
He underscored the collaborative nature of One Health, which involves diverse sectors working together under the common goal of safeguarding human, animal, and environmental health. He highlighted that achieving the Global One Health Security Agenda necessitates embracing the One Health approach.
He also presented a practical example of Ethiopia's progress in establishing a National One Health Steering Committee. This committee, composed of representatives from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, and Wildlife Conservation Authority, facilitates multi-sectoral coordination and collaboration among One Health stakeholders.
He stated that the One Health platform in Ethiopia has been successful in developing strategic documents, including strategic plans for specific diseases and communication. These documents prioritize various health challenges, ensuring coordinated and targeted actions.
Following the presentations, Dr. Donal Bisanzio facilitated the Q&A session, where participants and panelists engaged in the discussion. He then concluded the session by thanking the speakers and the attendees for their participation.
A total of 167 participants attended the webinar, Considering it another triumph in the EMPHNET WEBi Series.