The One Health plan, which will be implemented over a five-year period (2019-2023), has the vision of creating a nation of healthy people and animals living in a balanced ecosystem. The mission is to build a strategic, dynamic and functional platform that advances human, animal and environmental health through multidisciplinary and inter-sectoral collaboration.
The plan will be implemented through five thematic areas – surveillance and response, training and research, governance and leadership, communication and resource mobilization.
Unlike prior health plans that place emphasis on communicable diseases (HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria) and issues of maternal and child health, the One Health plan adopts a different approach by recognizing that a connection between people’s health and the health of animals and the environment. Consequently, the plan focuses on zoonotic diseases – diseases that can be shared between animals and people.
Interestingly, studies have shown that countries in East and West Africa: Ethiopia, Tanzania, Nigeria, Togo and Mali are the nations that bear the greatest burden of neglected zoonoses not only in Africa but globally. This has been attributed to a number of factors, including high wildlife biodiversity, rapid human population growth and change in land use.
While we acknowledge that some measures have been put in place to address communicable diseases, we do not think attention has been given to diseases that originate from animals.
The country has experienced epidemics of zoonotic origin like Ebola Virus disease, avian influenza and Lassa fever and as such, there is the need for a more coordinated approach in preventing and controlling the outbreak of such zoonotic diseases. To this end, we regard the One Health plan as a welcome development.
We expect that collaboration among the various ministries should foster the design and implementation of programs, policies, legislation and research that will lead to an improvement in health outcomes for the populace. Overall, we think the plan if properly implemented, monitored and sustained will reduce the outbreak of zoonotic diseases whilst also leading to better health care, which is a primary condition for an economy to thrive.
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