Bringing science and development together through news and analysis

‘One health’ approach recommended for Horn of Africa

Copyright: Flickr/ Christine Clark, US Army Africa

Speed read

  • About 75 per cent of emergent infectious diseases are transmitted by animals

  • Adopting one health approach could save millions of lives in Horn of Africa

  • The approach requires creative partnerships among countries in the region

Shares
[ADDIS ABABA] Researchers have recommended a ‘one health’ approach for addressing health problems in cross-border mobile and pastoralist populations in the Horn of Africa.
                                       
The one health approach considers the interaction of livestock, ecology and people as a binding factor in addressing the health of these populations, according to the researchers.

The approach was discussed at the First International Scientific Conference of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) in Ethiopia last month (3-6 December).

“The one health approach aims to bring interdisciplinary collaborations to attain optimal health for people, animals, and environment. When properly implemented, it will help protect and save millions of lives.”

Wubshet Mamo, The International Training and Education Center on Health


Research papers presented at the conference showed that most diseases affecting the mobile population in the region are strongly linked to how environment, livestock and human populations interact.

About 75 per cent of emerging infectious diseases, including Ebola are transmitted from animals to humans, said Ayana Yeneabat, a private researcher and consultant based in Ethiopia who co-chaired a session on Ebola.

The occurrence of diseases such as malaria, cholera and onchocerciasis in the mobile and pastoral communities are related to ecological factors because they are triggered either by seasonal variations or climate change, according to the conference.

A study conducted by Lense Gobu, a nutritionist based in Ethiopia, and veterinary professionals, last year in the Somali region of Ethiopia showed that a prolonged consumption of food devoid of animal-derived protein during the drought season led to acute malnutrition in children under five years, resulting in their vulnerability to other health problems.

Balako Gumi Donde, academic and research vice-president of Bule Hora University in Ethiopia, and other experts recommended the creation of partnerships for designing cross-border health interventions among countries in the region.

Donde said the one health approach needs to be pursued at country and regional levels to help address infectious diseases and environmental issues at the human, animal and ecosystem interfaces. 

Wubshet Mamo, the clinical laboratory programme director at the International Training and Education Center on Health, Ethiopia, said that for diseases in the mobile population to be effectively addressed, there is a need for integrating human medicine, veterinary medicine and environmental science as a model for Africa.

“The one health approach aims to bring interdisciplinary collaborations to attain optimal health for people, animals, and environment. When properly implemented, it will help protect and save millions of lives,” Mamo added.

The researchers highlighted opportunities for partnerships among the various interventions as a way of improving human and animal health in the pastoral areas.

The ministerial committee of IGAD member states — Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda — in a declaration issued at the end of the conference, called for the development of health programmes targeting pastoralists and mobile populations and the scaling up of scientifically evidence-based prevention programmes.

This article has been produced by SciDev.Net's Sub-Saharan Africa desk.
 

Republish
We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.