The World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) supported Uganda to design a harmonized, detailed and realistic road-map of activities to improve collaboration between animal health and the public health sector, in a three-day meeting convened at the Sheraton Hotel in Kampala. The roadmap will enable Uganda to prevent, detect and respond to zoonotic disease outbreaks. The roadmap highlighted the importance of International Health Regulations (IHR 2005) and the role of WHO, on the mandate of the OIE. Veterinary services were recognized as a crucial part of implementing the IHR (2005). The importance of the IHR Monitoring and Evaluation Framework (IHRMEF) and Performance of Veterinary Services (PVS) strategic planning and exploring capacity building needs was also given prominence.
Additionally, participants noted that emerging, re-emerging, and endemic human diseases have their origins in animals recognizing that diseases in animals can have additional implications for human health through food safety and food security.
In his opening remarks, the Acting Director General of Health Services, Professor Anthony Mbonye noted that human and animal interaction is the leading source of disease outbreaks. He said, “We have to integrate human and animal health services if we are to quell disease outbreaks successfully.” Prof. Mbonye applauded WHO and OIE for the concept urging officials from different government sectors to make significant contributions to guide the formation of the roadmap.
Mr Andrew Bakainaga spoke on behalf of the WHO Representative in Uganda and highlighted the importance of integrating animal and public health. “Having a national action plan that is harmonized to control zoonotic disease will propel the country to greater heights in public health”, he said. Mr Bakainaga committed technical support of WHO to Uganda to improve public health.
The OIE Representative, Dr Alessandro Ripani said that 70% of infectious diseases are derived from animal and human interaction. He further said that PVS/IHR can be utilized to greatly tackle zoonotic diseases in Africa.
The Assistant Commissioner Disease Control at the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), Dr Noelina Nantima, highlighted the burden of zoonotic diseases in Uganda making reference to past outbreaks including; Anthrax, Crimean Congo disease and Rift Valley Fever in Uganda. She pointed out that all District Veterinary Officers (DVOs) benefited from the meeting, committing the support of MAAIF to tackle zoonotic diseases in the country.
WHO and OIE have been active promoters and implementers of an intersectoral collaborative approach among institutions and systems to prevent, detect, and control diseases among animals and humans. WHO and OIE are the two main international organizations responsible for proposing references for public health and animal health sectors respectively. They have developed various frameworks, tools and guidance material to strengthen the capacities at the national, regional and global levels.
WHO Member States adopted a legally binding framework IHR (2005) for events that may constitute a public health emergency of international concern. Through these regulations, countries are required to develop, strengthen and maintain minimum national core public health capacities to detect, assess, notify and respond to public health threats. WHO supports countries in their assessment of capacities through the (IHRMEF) which includes; a self-assessment tool for annual reporting to the World Health Assembly; and a voluntary Joint External Evaluation Tool (JEET) with indicators of performance for predefined technical areas.