Report on the One Health Technical and Ministerial Meeting to Address Zoonotic Diseases and Related Public Health Threats
The “One Health” concept underway in West Africa aims to adopt a holistic approach in responding to possible public health events such as high-impact infectious diseases emerging at the interface between humans, animals and the environment. A technical and ministerial meeting was convened at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Dakar, Senegal, from 8 to 11 November 2016 to share experiences and explore challenges encountered during the One Health approach to fight zoonosis and related public health threats.
This meeting was organized by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Animal Health Organization (OIE), the West African Health Organization (WAHO), the Regional Centre for Animal Health (CRSA) of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the World Bank. It brought together representatives of delegations from 15 ECOWAS countries and Mauritania and different partners, making a total of 247 participants, including 38 ministers and representatives of ministers. The representatives of Cameroon and Gabon were invited to share their experiences on the Global Health Security Agenda for strengthening integration and inter-sector cooperation to prevent, detect and respond to emerging infectious diseases threats, especially zoonosis and antimicrobial resistance.
The opening ceremony was chaired by the Minister of Health and Social Action of Senegal and was marked by four presentations by the Director General of WAHO, the Regional Representative of OIE, the FAO Representative for Senegal and the WHO Representative for Senegal. All expressed satisfaction with the holding of this meeting and underlined the importance of the One Health approach for addressing the region’s current public health security challenges.
The technical session began with sensitization on the One Health approach, followed by a presentation of progress made, challenges encountered and lessons learned in particular in West African. The first four sessions gave an overview of: the Global Health Security Agenda; the WHO/FAO/OIE tripartite agreement on the One Health approach; prospects for implementing the approach within ECOWAS areas; and human and animal health security in West Africa.
After that, six countries shared their experiences on: the strengthening of the institutional framework of the One Health approach; and infectious diseases surveillance and antimicrobial resistance under this approach. The ensuing thematic sessions centred on: surveillance of the natural reservoir of the Ebola virus; action around regional human and animal health laboratories networks; and global support and sharing of available resources/tools for the One Health approach and global health security. Since it was requested that the joint external assessment of the International Health Regulation (IHR) reflect the One Health approach, this is an opportunity to strengthen collaboration between human and animal health laboratories. The emphasis should be on existing capacity in the sub-region and available linkages to build bridges of collaboration among these laboratories. Furthermore, ECOWAS must emphasize two things: networking as a main means of sus-EXECUTIVE SUMMARY REPORT ON ONE HEALTH TECHNICAL AND MINISTERIAL MEETING TO ADDRESS ZOONOTIC DISEASES AND RELATED PUBLIC HEALTH THREATS.taining resilience- and response-related actions and active synergy.
Several challenges were identified, namely : the need to strengthen the network of epidemiologists to support the action of laboratories; the urgent need to establish a network of regional bio-banks to share specimens and information among countries and subsequently undertake research requiring these specimens. In addition, the capacity of country-level laboratories should be strengthened to ensure a rapid response to diseases that are rife in the sub-region. Capacity-building will focus on quality assurance, bio-security and bio-safety. The third challenge identified is that since technical and financial partners have put in place several tools and initiatives to support the implementation of the One Health approach, it is then important for States to make the best use of these tools.
At the end of these key discussions, four thematic sessions were organized in small groups: Policy, coordination and partnerships for the One Health approach; Readiness and response under this approach; (iii) Surveillance under this approach; and Operational aspects: human resources, financing and infrastructure. After deliberations, each group highlighted the most important issues and problems in implementing the One Health approach, the strengths and opportunities. Thereafter, recommended solutions for inter-sector collaboration were listed and key recommendations formulated.
The draft Regional Strategic Roadmap for implementing the One Health approach was disseminated.
This Regional Roadmap spotlights four specific activities that regional multi-sector stakeholders, member States and their partners must undertake to implement in the following three major thematic areas : coordination and partnership; preparation and interventions; and surveillance. The different countries then prepared their national action plans for implementing the One Health approach. These plans constitute one of the stages towards compliance with commitments taken by States in the communiqué issued by Ministers in charge of human health, animal health, wildlife and wild flora of West African countries. This communiqué highlighted the roles of public authorities in the establishment of inter-sector coordination, sub-regional review of dangers and risks, national and sub-regional early warning mechanisms and the regular sharing of information, joint external 2016 IHR evaluations and common planning of preparation and response.
The ministerial meeting was officially opened by the Prime Minister of Senegal, who began by thanking the partners for their multi-faceted and constant support and invited the countries to a frank collaboration at all levels - national, regional and international – to ease the sufferings of vulnerable populations.
Taking the floor in turns, the US ambassador, the Director of WAHO, the Representatives of OIE,
FAO and the WHO Regional Director for Africa thanked and congratulated the Government of Senegal for accepting to host this important meeting, underlined the relevance of the One Health approach and expressed their institutions’ commitment to, and expectations for, the operationalization of this approach in West Africa.
The Programme Director in charge of emergency situations at the WHO Regional Office presented a summary of the One Health concept and its major stakes for the population of Africa. Thereafter, the Director of Veterinary Services of Cote d’Ivoire presented to Ministers a summary of the outcome of the experts’ deliberations. These deliberations culminated in the formulation of a plan to implement the One Health approach in each country, while soliciting the commitment of their highest authorities to support this approach and the proposed regional framework.
Prior to the closing ceremony chaired by the Minister of Health and Social Action of Senegal, the floor was given to the Director of Surveillance of Nigeria to read the final Communiqué to be approved by Ministers. The contributions made by the delegations of Senegal and Nigeria allowed for improving the text that was unanimously adopted.