May 05, 2015
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Preparedness and Response (P&R) project brought together 30 representatives from 10 countries to learn what the project and its partners are doing to build national and regional One Health capacity to emerging and re-emerging zoonotic diseases.
One Health seeks to integrate multiple disciplines working locally, nationally, and globally to attain optimal health for people, animals, and the environment. Participants represented their countries’ various ministries of human health, environment, and animal health—the three pillars of the One Health approach. P&R has a dual mandate to help countries design and implement national preparedness and response plans for public health events of unknown etiology and to establish and strengthen National One Health Platforms.
The two-day conference featured 10 speakers and maximum time for networking and sharing lessons learned. The USAID Predict 2 project—which works to shift the prevention and surveillance of disease outbreaks towards identification and mitigation of viral spillover—and the USAID One Health Workforce—which supports One Health university networks to participate with government and other key partners in defining one health workforce needs—also presented to participants.
Conference participants benefitted most from the shared experiences. “We are going to go back home and try to address the issues of One Health in a holistic approach,” said Janneth Mghamba of Tanzania’s Ministry of Health and Human Welfare. “Rather than working in silos, all the sectors need to work together.”
Another participant stressed the importance of each sector trusting the other. “In Thailand, we have two key words: talk and trust. After meetings of the three sectors, we need to talk and discuss like friends. And because each of our organizations have different cultures, we need to be able to trust each other and act upon information shared,” said Soawapak Hinjoy of Thailand’s Bureau of Epidemiology.
The USAID P&R project is one component of the Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT 2) program. EPT2 has three overarching purposes: the prevention of the spillover, amplification, and spread of new and re-emerging zoonotic viruses; early detection of new viruses when they emerge; and their timely and effective control. EPT2 is part of the Obama Administration’s Global Health Security Agenda, which brings together U.S. government agencies and other national governments to address natural and manmade disease threats worldwide.
By the end of the workshop, participants articulated their specific country needs that the P&R team plans to address. “This workshop has been invaluable to the P&R team as we begin to launch activities in more than 20 countries in Southeast Asia and Africa,” said Chief of Party Jerry Martin. “The Ebola outbreak demonstrates the enormous human and economic costs that pandemic threats can inflict in the absence of strong preparedness and response systems. P&R is focused on helping these countries address these gaps in a sustainable and effective manner.”
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