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Infectious diseases that affect both humans and animals have been on the increase in the recent past, says One Health Central and Eastern Africa (OHCEA), which held its One Health Conference this past week, from the 23rd to the 27th September, at the Hilton Hotel.
The conference brought together over 200 delegates from across the globe from different sectors such as development partners, policy makers, university students of various disciplines such as public health, veterinary medicine and environmental health, social anthropologists and economists to share their knowledge and practical experiences.
OHCEA says that many infectious diseases are increasingly crossing over from animals to humans, and vice versa, requiring new approaches by different disciplines and sectors working on humans, domesticanimals, wildlife and the environment to interface.
There is a need for de-constructing and re-constructing structural arrangements within the educational, developmental and policy-making institutions and organizations creating new thought to advance the approaches, it was stated.
Among the conference’s sub-themes were disease surveillance, control and prevention, capacity building in developing nations, as well as how diseases affect economies and societies. The overall goal of the conference is collaboration to develop a One Health policy formation and implementation in order to improve the capacity of countries to respond to any emerging pandemics in the region.
It was also stated that a multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral approach underpinning the One Health approach has been found to be a way to sustainably respond to new challenges in the health sector. Discussions to promote the role of women in One Health initiatives, as well as how to engage communities, were also part of the event.
OHCEA is a network of universities in Central and Eastern Africa that are collaborating to build One Health capacity and academic partnerships between member institutions in the region and governments. Its membership includes 14 Central and Eastern African Schools of Public Health and Schools of Veterinary Medicine, US partner institutions, The University of Minnesota (UMN) and Tufts University.
The organization seeks to expand the human-resource base needed to detect and respond to potential pandemic disease outbreaks, and increase integration of animal, wildlife and human disease surveillance and outbreak response systems.