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Côte d’Ivoire/National Veterinary Days 2017: Afrique One-ASPIRE traces the history and benefits of One Health for disease control and elimination

From the 29th to 30th March 2017, the National Veterinary Days 2017 organized by the Association of Veterinary Doctors of Côte d’Ivoire (ADVCI, in French) are held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. As leader in One Health, the research consortium Afrique One-ASPIRE, was invited to this event to lead two sessions on One Health. The first is entitled “One Health: History and Current Initiatives” and the second, “One Health: Environmental Perspective”.

One Health: history and current initiatives

Dr Kathrin Heitz-Tokpa, programme manager of Afrique One-ASPIRE, social anthropologist and historian, talked about the One Health development. According to her, the veterinary and human health sectors have always been linked. The separation between them started with their respectively professionalization. As for southern countries, the speaker underlined the lack of information on the One Health history. However, she added ‘that the development of One Health has been inspired by collaborative and multidisciplinary work within the framework of international organizations’. Subsequently, Dr Heitz-Tokpa, was talking in more detail about Afrique One-ASPIRE as a current initiative. Having benefited in 2009 from Wellcome Trust funding for a five-year period, Afrique One-ASPIRE, known then as ‘Afrique One’, enabled the training of more than 100 African researchers in six years including 20 post-docs, 18 PhD students and 30 master students under the One Health framework. Today, they are affiliated with various universities and research institutions in Africa. In addition, an improvement of the Africa research environment was observed in terms of technical and institutional capacity building led by Afrique One.

Since 2016, thanks to a consortium of donors consisting of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS), the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the Wellcome Trust and the British Cooperation, Afrique One-ASPIRE recruited 44 scientists to conduct research on canine rabies, bovine tuberculosis, brucellosis, Buruli ulcer, and foodborne diseases through One Health. They will also monitor emerging diseases in order to provide adequate responses.

One Health: environmental perspective

The session on ‘One Health: Environment Perspective’ was facilitated by Dr Karim Ouattara, senior monitoring and evaluation assistant of Afrique One-ASPIRE. He presented the relationship between humans, the environment and animals. According to Dr Ouattara Karim, the link between the three components of One Health responds to several functionalities at various levels: socio-cultural, ecosystem services, food and nutritional security, pharmacological and therapeutic and pathological.

  • 2/3 of human pathogens are zoonoses
  • 40% of the ‘poor’ populations have a pet
  • 3/4 of emerging and re-emerging diseases are zoonoses

These statistics reveal the importance of the human–animal link, and the need for integrated One Health approaches to solve human, animal and plant health issues. Dr Ouattara’s comments were supported by two case studies presented successively by Arlette Dindé, PhD student recruited from the Afrique One-ASPIRE and Dr Constant Ahoua, Afrique One-ASPIRE coordination assistant.

From the implementation of One Health in a study on bushmeat consumption patterns following the recent West African Ebola crisis, Arlette Dindé has assessed alternative protein sources for biodiversity, conservation and nutritional health. Dr Constant Ahoua, on the other hand, underlined the contribution of plants consumed by chimpanzees in the control of pathologies in humans as another important target element for the One Health approach.

Challenges for a successful one health approach

In order to successfully implement One Health, Dr Ouattara encouraged inter- and cross-disciplinary approaches to disease control and elimination, with particular emphasis on collaboration between sectors at all levels. The senior monitoring and evaluation assistant of Afrique One-ASPIRE focused on these elements within the capacity-building activities of One Health through training and inclusion of a One Health module in the curriculum.

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