On 6-7 February 2023, the UK Academy of Medical Sciences and the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) jointly organised a workshop to discuss the implementation of One Health approaches in Africa. The One Health workshop was followed by a researcher capacity building workshop.Status: In progress
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One Health Workshop: Kenya
On 6-7 February 2023, the UK Academy of Medical Sciences and the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) jointly organised a workshop to discuss the implementation of One Health approaches in Africa. The One Health workshop was followed by a researcher capacity building workshop.
The One Health High-Level Expert Panel defines ‘One Health’ as an integrative and systemic approach to health, grounded on the understanding that human health is closely linked to the healthiness of food, animals, and the environment and the healthy balance of their impact on the ecosystems they share, everywhere in the world. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), while health, food, water, energy and the environment are wider topics with sector-specific concerns, a collaborative approach across the sectors contributes to protect health, address challenges relating to food safety, combatting antibiotic resistance; the control of zoonoses; and help preserve the integrity of ecosystems. Over the past three decades, the onset of outbreaks of zoonotic diseases has increased. As the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated, public health systems need to be able to rapidly identify threats and react promptly. From the COVID-19 experience, it is crucial to identify what could be done better, to prevent future outbreaks or mitigate their impacts. A multi-sectoral One Health approach is critical for the control of diseases such as avian flu and tuberculosis and for the prevention of new emerging pathogens, especially zoonoses, which are diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans. While emerging zoonoses often capture the world’s attention, given their potential threat to high-income countries, many low-and-middle income countries carry the burden of zoonoses, especially endemic diseases such as rabies and leptospirosis. The International Health Initiatives set up to address zoonoses predominately focus on those that pose a threat to the broader global community, rather than endemic zoonoses. Even within low resource settings, those predominately exposed to zoonotic infections are vulnerable communities, such as the one billion poor livestock keepers in Asia and Africa.
The One Health approach can play a pivotal part in improving health and more broadly facilitate positive developments to wellbeing, livelihoods, and the environment, by aligning separate efforts to work collaboratively. This involves bringing together key players across the sectors such as medical doctors, veterinarians, agricultural experts, social scientists and public health experts. Bringing together expertise across the ecosystem, could also support with identifying and bridging key research gaps.
Aims and objectives
The main objectives of this workshop were to:
- Bring together multi-sectoral expertise across the One Health spectrum in the continent.
- Comprehensively review previous and ongoing One Health initiatives and research innovations across the sectors, with a particular focus on operationalisation, to understand where the gaps are and how a multi-sectoral approach could support in addressing these gaps.
- Identify solutions and key actions that can facilitate greater multi-sectoral collaboration within countries, across regions and the continent that stakeholders can take forward.
To achieve this, the workshop aimed to:
- Learn from existing initiatives, evidence, and successes from across the continent and the UK on the implementation of One Health approaches to allow countries to learn from one another.
- Identify country/region/continent specific challenges, barriers and gaps to enhancing One Health capabilities across research areas, that could be addressed through multi-sectoral collaboration.
- Consider how initiatives and research can prioritise community engagement through greater multi-sectoral collaboration.
- Identify key actions and research areas for multi-sectoral collaboration that can enhance One Health capabilities.
Following the workshop, the steering committee with the input of participants developed a high-level outcome statement outlining the key messages that emerged from the workshop around the actions needed.
An overarching final written report is underway and will be available to read and disseminated to stakeholders as relevant. This will synthesise the key discussion points from the workshop, capturing barriers, priorities, and next steps with the aim of informing policy and research decisions on One Health in the region.
- Professor Sarah Cleaveland FMedSci, Professor of Comparative Epidemiology (Infectious disease Ecology), University of Glasgow, UK (co-chair)
- Professor Mohamed Iqbal Parker Emeritus Professor and Senior Research Scholar in Medical Biochemistry and Structural Biology, University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa (co-chair)
- Professor Francine Ntoumi, Senior lecturer in Immunology, University Marien Ngouabi, Republic of Congo
- Professor Andre Pascal Kengne, Director of the Non-Communicable Diseases Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council
- Professor Eric Fevre, Chair of Veterinary Infectious Disease, University of Liverpool and International Livestock Research Institute
- Professor Lisa Boden, Chair of Population Medicine and Veterinary Public Health Policy, University of Edinburgh
- Dr Sarah Hill, Research fellow in Genomic Epidemiology (Infectious diseases), Royal Veterinary College
- Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim, co-founder and Associate Scientific Director, Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA)
- Emelda Okiro, Population Health Lead, KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya and Associate Professor, University of Oxford
- Professor Tom Solomon CBE FMedSci, Professor of Neurology and Director of the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Emerging and Zoonotic Infections, University of Liverpool
Following the workshop, the steering committee with the input of participants developed a high-level outcome statement outlining the key messages that emerged from the workshop around the actions needed:
The joint African Academy of Sciences (AAS) – UK Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS) workshop on One Health took place on 6-7th February 2023 in Nairobi, Kenya, and convened over 70 academics, researchers, policy makers and health community leaders from 23 countries in Africa and the UK. The workshop provided a valuable platform for:
- Sharing experiences around One Heath approaches in Africa
- Creating awareness of the scope and diversity of on-going One Health activities
- Highlighting African leadership in research, policy, and capacity-strengthening programmes
- Showcasing grassroot initiatives that demonstrated creative and effective engagement with communities and across sectors
The workshop participants agreed that future actions should focus on identifying One Health solutions to cross-sectoral problems that: (i) Improve lives and human livelihoods in line with the Sustainable Development Goals; (ii) are co-produced with local communities so that they recognise and address local concerns and priorities; and (iii) contribute to broader strengthening of health systems, including support for the health of the environment, to enhance disease outbreak prevention, detection, response and recovery capability, in line with international, regional and national frameworks
A more detailed workshop report is currently underway which will summarise the key discussions and next steps from the workshop and provide additional context to the actions identified in the outcome statement. The report is aimed at aimed at global and regional and national Africa based researchers, funders, policy makers and stakeholders working across the One Health space to help inform future policy and research decisions to aid the implementation of One Health in the region.
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