As Uganda was busy battling with covid-19 pandemic between 2020 and 2021, the foot and mouth disease attacked the cattle corridor in western Uganda, within the same time, anthrax hit the Bugisu cattle districts of Manafwa and Namisindwa.
The government was forced to put up temporary rapid measures which included among others: instating lockdowns, and quarantines among others solving the issues.
Research has on several occasions established that some animal diseases like FMD affects both animals and humans as well as affecting the environment which ends up costing governments billions to save the three.
Against that background, experts globally came up with a real timely intervention dubbed the One Health Approach.
The World Health Organization defines ‘One Health’ as an integrated and unifying approach to balance and optimize the health of people, animals, and the environment.
This approach calls for multiple disciplines working locally, nationally, and globally focusing mainly on three components that include Human health, Animal health, and the environment we live in.
Uganda as a country hadn’t fully embraced this approach though it has proved to be an ultimate solution to tackling the diseases and viruses that affect the three.
On Wednesday this week, stakeholders from academia led by Makerere and Kyambogo Universities, government MDAs like the Ministry of Water and Environment, Education and Sports, Agricultural, Office of the Prime Minister, and different Chaos gathered at Makerere University’s College of Veterinary Animal Resources and Bio-security (COVAB) to launch the Capacitating One Health in Eastern and Southern Africa (COHESA) project.
The project, according to Dr. Clovice Kankya who doubles as the Head of the Department of Bio-security, Eco System and Veterinary Health at Makerere University and the Country Team Leader of COHESA aims at looking at priorities tailored to One Health an approach that hasn’t been deployed often in the country.
“I appreciate that the COHESA project has come on board, and we will make sure that we collaborate to ensure that the lives of Ugandans, animals and the environment we live in stay healthy through proper implementation of this project,” Kankya added.
The COHESA project that started in December 2021 is currently operating in 11 countries in East and South Africa and these include Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
This 4-year project aims to generate an inclusive research and innovation ecosystem, facilitating rapid uptake, and adoption of solutions to issues that can be dealt with using a One Health approach.
This project which is a consortium of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development, and the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications has an objective of the increasing relevance of One Health research and policies in Eastern and Southern Africa.
Some of the objectives of the COHESA project are enhanced national and sub-regional cross-sectoral collaboration between government entities with One Health mandates and stakeholders across society, equipping educational and Research institutes to train the next generation workforce, and increased capacity of government and non-governmental stakeholders.
Currently, the world is facing unprecedented, interconnected threats to the health of people, animals, and the environment.
Dr. Theo Knight-Jones believes that addressing these threats requires cross-sectoral and systems-wide approaches which are encapsulated in the One Health concept that recognizes the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment.
Prior to the discussions, the participants were taken on a guided tour at COVAB mainly at Bio Security Level 2.
Dr. Monica Namakula told participants that they are currently handling different vaccines and diagnoses at the DNA and RNA levels and if the Bio Security Level 3 is completed, they will be handling the active viruses.
“We shall also handle the mammalian tests but for now we are on proteins,” she said
In her remarks, Rose Nakabugo from the Office of the Prime Minister reaffirmed the government’s commitment to the One Health Initiative and noted that the project is key in making the country and region better prepared for epidemics.