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Epidemiologists, others advocate 'one-health' approach

Stakeholders identified one-health approach as the surest way to curtail public health challenges or diseases emergence in any country.

Nigerian health official administers a polio vaccine to a child in Kano, northern Nigeria

The stakeholders made the call on sidelines of the conference with the theme: “Strengthening one health through field epidemiology”, in Abuja on Thursday.

The stakeholders are the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ministry of Health and African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET), among others.

Mr Joshua Obasanya, Chairman, Local Organising Committee of the conference, identified one-health approach as the surest way to curtail public health challenges or diseases emergence in any country.

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Obasanya said the conference was aimed at bringing together all agencies and relevant workforce that could bridge the gap between emerging and re-emerging diseases that were of animal origin and posed public health challenge.

He said that it was also aimed at charting a way forward in addressing the nation’s public health challenges caused by animals.

He identified field epidemiologists as the foot soldiers in tracking and analysing disease outbreaks before they become widespread.

According to him, they also provide valuable information that can be used to determine where the next outbreak may happen and how it can be prevented.

Obasanya, who noted that the conference was geared toward resolving pertinent health challenges, emphasised that actualising this would require curtailing zonotic diseases, infections and food safety.

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He said that six out of 10 public health diseases emanated from animals.

He, however, said the only way to nip this public health challenge in the bud was through the collaborative efforts of health officials, environmentalists, veterinarians and laboratory scientists, among others.

He appealed to the Federal Government to institutionalise one-health approach that would incorporate the concerned agencies to curtail the emergence and re-emergence of disease outbreaks in the country.

“Proper integration of animal health, human and environmental health will be of great benefit to the country thereby reducing the huge amount expended on the general wellbeing of the populace.

“We must indulge in researches and policies that will enhance the quality of life of Nigerians and this will require multisectoral approach and collaboration,’’ Obasanya said.

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Also, Mrs Omotayo Bolu, Acting Country Director, US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, identified NFELTP as having three distinct tracks of the medical, veterinary and laboratory.

Bolu explained that one-health recognised that “the connection of the health of people is to the health of animals and the environment”.

The country director, who described the approach as huge return on investment and saves lives, among others, called for the sustainability of the epidemiologists’ residency training programme.

“The goal of one-health is to encourage the collaborative efforts of multiple disciplines-working locally, nationally and globally to achieve the best health for people, animals and our environment.

“ The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) sees one-health as ‘a holistic vision to address complex challenges that threaten human and animal health, food security, poverty and the environments where diseases flourish,’’ she said.

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