Scientists reflect on the design and implementation of the CGIAR One Health Initiative

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In a new research article published in the journal One Health (Mar 2024), the lead scientists in the CGIAR Initiative on One Health discuss their midterm reflections on the process of planning and implementing the three-year (2022–24) research-for-development program that is addressing antimicrobial resistance, zoonotic diseases and food and water safety in seven countries in Africa and Asia.

Lead author Steven Lam noted that reflecting on the achievements and challenges during the first half of the program’s lifespan will facilitate learning and adaptive management for the latter half.

“This involves examining processes to determine what is working and what could be done better,” he said.

“As interest in applying the One Health approach increases, we hope that our article will enhance the success of future collaborative One Health endeavours as well,” he added, noting that critical reflection is essential to identify and address the complexities of collaborative initiatives.

The process evaluation was carried out by interviews with the researchers involved in leading the initiative’s work packages. The interviews were then thematically analysed and synthesised.

The reflections were centred on six key elements necessary for an impactful One Health research-for-development initiative: institutional support, collaboration, integration, socio-ecological equilibrium, outcomes and learning.

A key reflection was the importance of forming and strengthening partnerships with local partners and national governments to ensure local relevance, sustainability and meaningful impact of the initiative’s research.

The need to adopt a continuous learning approach through regular assessment of progress towards the initiative’s envisioned development impacts was also noted.

“To unlock the full potential of One Health, prioritising continuous learning is essential,” the authors emphasised, adding that engaging in and sharing critical reflections can bridge the divide between One Health theory and practice.

Co-author Hung Nguyen-Viet, who leads the initiative, observed that the article is timely as CGIAR is in the process of developing its research portfolio for 2025–30.

“These lessons from the One Health Initiative will help to improve the design and implementation of the One Health program in the upcoming CGIAR research portfolio and will be useful for One Health researchers and practitioners,” he said.

Lam, S., Hoffmann, V., Bett, B., Fèvre, E.M., Moodley, A., Mohan, C.V., Mateo-Sagasta, J. and Hung Nguyen-Viet. 2024. Navigating One Health in research-for-development: Reflections on the design and implementation of the CGIAR Initiative on One Health. One Health 18: 100710.

Photo: Agriculture on the banks of the Ganges River (IWMI/Neil Palmer)

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