CGIAR Initiative on One Health hosts workshop in Ethiopia to strengthen regional and global research partnerships

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On Wednesday 26 April 2023, the CGIAR Initiative on One Health held a workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia that brought together some 50 participants from various countries to evaluate the progress of the initiative’s research activities and explore how the initiative can better support One Health activities in the target countries and the region at large.

The initiative’s target countries are Bangladesh, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Uganda and Vietnam.

The group discussed the implementation of research activities during the first year of the initiative, reviewed work plans for the second year and shared lessons from different country perspectives.

The workshop was a useful platform to reinforce the commitment of participating countries to adopt One Health as an integrated approach to tackle complex health challenges.

Presenters noted that addressing these challenges requires collaborative efforts and partnerships, and they acknowledged the CGIAR Initiative on One Health for promoting such collaboration.

Voices from various countries

Participants from various countries presented on practical ways in which the initiative can support their national One Health agendas.

Mathew Muturi, co-leader of Kenya’s Zoonotic Disease Unit, shared how the Government of Kenya has developed a national One Health strategic plan aimed at strengthening the prevention, surveillance and control of zoonotic diseases and promoting applied research on the One Health approach.

In the west African region, most of the 15 Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member countries have established a One Health coordination mechanism with different leadership and management models.

ECOWAS is currently building an innovative regional One Health coordination mechanism with a governance manual and strategic plan to jointly tackle health threats that would be a challenge for individual countries to address alone.

Bassirou Bonfoh, research advisor for the National One Health platform in Côte d’Ivoire, said, ‘Impact assessments of implementing One Health approaches are missing, and hence it is important to address the three Cs—coordination, collaboration and communication—across the interfaces to enhance the added value of One Health.’

‘This stakeholder engagement has enabled us to network and strengthen our knowledge and coordinate efforts within the One Health Initiative,’ he added.

Ethiopia’s commitment to the One Health approach is evident through its governance structures and policies.

The country has already made significant progress in strengthening human resources and facilities and developing and implementing cross-sectoral strategies with multiple national and international partners, including the establishment of sub-national One Health task forces to ensure One Health in Ethiopia is strengthened and operationalized.

Fikru Regassa, State Minister, Livestock and Fishery Sector, in the Ministry of Agriculture of Ethiopia, communicated, after the workshop, his country’s support for the One Health approach.

‘One of the major global challenges, including that of Ethiopia, is the prevalence of diseases affecting animals and humans. The global COVID-19 pandemic taught us about the importance of using a One Health approach,’ he said.

‘The Ministry of Agriculture of Ethiopia is committed to fostering a One Health approach to address global health challenges and would like to reaffirm the strong collaborations and partnerships we have with CGIAR. Together we succeed, divided we fail!’ he added.

The Government of India has also been at the forefront of operationalizing One Health with support from the World Bank which recently approved USD 82 million for the prevention of zoonotic and endemic diseases in India.

Reflecting after the workshop, Moushumi Hazra, research officer at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) based in Delhi, said, ‘This was a good forum to discuss what has been done in different parts of the world, review the different methodologies adopted, exchange ideas and network with other researchers who are adopting One Health approaches.’

‘As part of the initiative’s research, one of IWMI’s activities in India is to characterize and model the loads and concentrations of and human exposure to waterborne pathogens including antimicrobial-resistant bacteria in the Song River watershed,’ she added.

Vivian Hoffmann, senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute and co-leader of the CGIAR Initiative on One Health, also appreciated the workshop as a useful opportunity to meet with initiative scientists and government partners.

‘It’s been extremely productive to sit down with collaborators and hash things out, and to get to know the people in charge of the public agencies and programs we are working with. I leave this meeting with a clearer understanding of our shared goals, and a sense of excitement to move forward together on this work,’ she said.

Moving forward

As the CGIAR Initiative on One Health enters its second year of activities, it is diligently working towards key assessments of health and economics risks associated with zoonoses, antimicrobial resistance and food safety.

In 2023, pilot testing of interventions will be a key activity to assess how innovations developed by the initiative can mitigate risks and zoonotic disease transmission.

The initiative will continue to support the development of One Health platforms in different countries, the food safety technical working groups in Ethiopia and Vietnam, and field sites in Kenya and Vietnam.

Hung Nguyen-Viet, co-leader of the Animal and Human Health program at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and leader of the CGIAR Initiative on One Health, acknowledged the remarkable advancements by the partners in adopting One Health approaches.

He said, ‘It is interesting to see the demand in One Health operationalization revealed by the countries where the initiative is being implemented. This offers us a true opportunity to shape our activities to really support teams to realize their country and regional One Health strategies.’

‘We will advance activities through the initiative to help generate evidence that can inform policies to protect human health, some of these could include cross-talks between other CGIAR initiatives,’ he added.

Through these collaborative efforts, the CGIAR Initiative on One Health aims to make a lasting impact on global health and effectively address the complex interplay between human, animal and environmental health.

For more details, access the workshop report.

Written by Ekta Patel and edited by Tezira Lore of ILRI.

Photo: Participants at the CGIAR Initiative on One Health Ethiopia stakeholder workshop (ILRI/Apollo Habtamu)

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