What is One Health? Why is it important to talk about it? And why should we use it in livestock sector development? These questions were addressed in-depth at the European–Southeast Asian experts One Health in action workshop in Hanoi, Vietnam on 13-15 October 2014.
The workshop, which was sponsored by the ASEAN-EU Cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation (SEA-EU-NET) and organized by a consortium made by the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE), the National Institute for Veterinary Research (NIVR), French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the British High Council Singapore (BHC) and the Southeast Asia One Health University Network (SEAOHUN), brought together medical doctors, veterinarians, epidemiologists, public health practitioners, environmental and agricultural researchers and academics to discuss issues surrounding One Health. The ultimate goal of the workshop was to discuss three main topics: i) One Health surveillance, ii) One Health and EcoHealth research and iii) antimicrobial resistance and One Health.
One Health ‘is a multidisciplinary approach to achieve optimal health for people, animals and the environment through local, regional and global research collaboration’. In Southeast Asia, One Health has gained much more attention due to the rise of cross-species epidemics, such as SARS, avian influenza and Nipah virus. With 70% of emerging diseases being of animal origin, the use of One Health approaches has risen in importance especially in the face of increasingly high urbanization rate and dramatic expansion of livestock production.
The One Health approach is unique because it recognizes the interdependence between human, animal and environmental health. However, adoption of One Health approaches faces challenges particularly on the level of policy making and in the community level.
The ‘From One Health theory to reality: Practical challenges, impact of One Health initiatives and gaps in research’ workshop discussed One Health/EcoHealth principles in the context of Southeast Asia, which is considered a hot spot for emerging infectious diseases that present serious socio-economic, environmental and development challenges. Interventions from field actors were also presented, especially the case studies from Vietnam, Lao PDR and Cambodia, making One Health more context specific and region appropriate.
Participants gave recommendations for increasing adoption of One Health approaches including acknowledging One Health’s similarities and differences with EcoHealth. Participants said that One Health is not only about zoonoses research, and they suggested viewing One Health as a branch of epidemiology.
Participants also recommended setting up of a framework, operational guidelines, the right people with the right objectives, priorities, case studies and more flexibility in using the approach.
They praised ongoing efforts towards developing a One Health framework internationally and nationally, but such said frameworks should also guide activities at the local level. Participants also called for community empowerment, increased partnership between actors and more funding to make the approach sustainable.
The workshop has formulated subtopics that will be used to inform and advocate the EU for the new call for proposals for funding of Horizon2020 programme.
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