9 November 2016
The One Health technical and ministerial meeting to address zoonotic diseases and related public health threats was opened in Dakar on 8th November 2016 by Professor Awa Marie Coll Seck, the Senegalese Minister of health. One of the goals of this meeting was to sensitize West African countries on the technical and operational aspects of the One Health approach, including progress made to date, challenges and lessons learned in Africa and especially in the West African sub-region.
Different presentations have shown that major global disease outbreaks are caused by diseases that come from animals or the environment. Consequently, there is a necessity to adopt a One Health approach in future strategies to improve global public health. The following numbers demonstrate the urgency of the matter:
These statistics convinced West African countries to commit to the One Health approach to achieve global health and security. Senegal, Cameroon and Nigeria have shared their experience in setting up task forces under different institutional arrangements and leaderships.
Gabon, Ghana and Burkina Faso have shared their experiences in the surveillance of Ebola virus disease, antimicrobial resistance and rabies.
One health is not a new but rather actual approach given the on-going needs in improving health systems.
The position of Afrique One-ASPIRE at this consultation and policy meeting is that we do not need to create new institutions but we need to strengthen the existing ones with good communication and strong capacity building in systems thinking in place. In addition, research is key to support the surveillance–response system through reference laboratories and public health research institutes. If we want to accelerate the quality of health systems, involvement of all stakeholders (communities) is important and resources should be allocated proportionally to the added value that each sector could provide.
Since 2009, Afrique One has positioned itself as an African research consortium for that generates knowledge and translates it into action. The good achievements of Afrique One made sure donors to engage a 2nd phase named Afrique One-African Science Partnership for Intervention Research Excellence (Afrique One-ASPIRE). The focus of Afrique One–ASPIRE (2016-2021) is on endemic zoonotic diseases (diseases that are transmissible between animals and humans) through capacity building. Its aspiration is to harness the unique societal drivers of Africa to build a world-leading Pan-African research capacity in One Health science.
Afrique One-ASPIRE is financed by a donor consortium consisting of the Wellcome Trust, UKaid, the African Academy of Sciences and the African Union through NEPAD. It covers nine African institutions (CSRS, IHI, EISMV, NMIMR, IRED, SUA, NMIR, NM-AIST, Beca/ILRI), five other African partners institutions (TAWIRI, UDSM, MAKUN, KCRI/KCMC, MUHAS) and two northern partners (University of Glasgow and the Swiss TPH) in nine countries (Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Ghana, Chad, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, United Kingdom, Switzerland).
This range of experiences shows that One Health is not a new concept but rather the current approach. In West Africa, One Health is not blank.