Meeting on “One Health” approach in the WHO African Region opens in Libreville
Libreville, 12 November 2012 -- A meeting on the “One health” approach in the WHO African Region started on 12 November 2012 at the Okoume Palace Hotel in Libreville, Gabon.
The meeting is being attended by senior policy makers from ministries of Health, Environment, Livestock, Wildlife and Agriculture. Also in attendance are researchers, scholars, experts, representatives of International NGO and partners of WHO such as FAO, USAID, CDC, OIE, OHCEA, and AU-IBAR.
The main objective of the meeting is to contribute to prevention reinforcement and riposte of threats caused by zoonotic emerging illness in the African Region.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the three-day meeting, the US Ambassador to Gabon, His Excellency Mr. Eric Benjaminson, said: “One of the most important lessons we have learned in responding to the growing threat posed by emerging disease threats is that the traditional health system alone cannot possibly address the complex set of risks to society from newly emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. »
He added that the US recognizes that reducing the threat posed by emergent diseases requires a “One Health” approach in order to: build on the understanding that the future well-being of humans, animals and the environment are inextricably linked; promote cross-sectorial coordination that spans the animal health, public health, environmental and conservations communities, and target promotion of those policies and the strengthening of those skills and capacities critical for both minimizing the risk of new disease emergence.
Speaking at the occasion, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Luis Gomes Sambo, said “The African Region faces numerous public health challenges from emerging and re-emerging diseases with epidemic and pandemic risks. » He also said that that countries in the African Region report an average of 80 to 100 public health events more than 80% of which are of infectious diseases origin. Outbreaks of zoonoses most frequently reported include Rift Valley Fever, Lassa Fever, Ebola and Marburg, said Dr Sambo.
Epidemics of zoonotic origin constitute a serious threat to economic and social development of affected countries and represent a threat to International public health security.
In 2010, WHO, FAO and OIE concluded a Tripartite Agreement defining mechanisms for collaboration and coordination in the implementation of global activities in order to reduce the risk of animal-human-ecosystem interfaces. In 2011, the African Region began to reflect on the “one health” approach by partnering with USAID, FAO, OIE and some universities in East Africa.
« Gabon witnessed four epidemics of Ebola between 1996 and 2002. The fight against these epidemics was only won through coordinated actions implemented in a multisectoral setting with the help of partners in a spirit of solidarity having regard to the suffering, deaths and rising health costs » said Prof. Leon N’Zouba, Minister of Health of Gabon. He said that there was the risk of recurrence of epidemics because of changes in the environment, climate change, population explosion, and cross-border movements of populations, poverty and other factors.
The concept of "One Health" is an integrated approach to health which focuses on the interactions between animals, humans and their various environments. Organized by the WHO Regional Office for Africa, the meeting will enable participants from 11 countries of the region (Angola, Cameroon, DRC, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Kenya, Congo Republic, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda) to share experiences and reinforce political initiatives for the implementation of the “One Health” approach.
For further information, please contact:
Dr Benido Impouma, impoumab [at] afro.who.int
Dr Francis Kasolo, kasolof [at] afro.who.int