15 July 2022 | Abuja – Nigeria One-Health Conference 2022: A Call to Action Towards Building a One Health Community-based Networks
The 2022 Nigeria One Health conference organised by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) in partnership with the United States Department of State’s Biosecurity Engagement Program (BEP), and Global Implementation Solutions (GIS) held on 13th July 2022 in a virtual format. This is in line with Nigeria’s commitment to strengthening the prevention, detection, and response to infectious diseases that affect humans, animals, and the environment using a One Health approach.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme, over 60% of known and emerging infectious diseases are transmitted from animals to humans i.e., are zoonotic. The risk of increasing transmission of these zoonoses are largely the result of increasing human population and the need for food (through farming and hunting); urbanisation with increasing human encroachment on animal ecosystems; and closer interactions with animals/wildlife i.e., narrowing of the animal-human interphase in the environment. Nigeria, with a population of over 200 million and an annual estimated growth rate of 2.6%, has witnessed the deleterious effects of zoonoses such as Ebola Virus Disease, Lassa fever, Dengue, yellow fever, monkeypox, H5N1 avian influenza, etc over the last two decades.
Consequently, the NCDC, in collaboration with relevant ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) including the Federal Ministries of Health, Agriculture and Rural Development and Environment, and partners, developed a 5-year One Health strategic plan for Nigeria (2019-2023). One Health is an approach to designing and implementing programmes, policies, legislation, and research in which multiple sectors plan, communicate and work together to achieve better public health outcomes for the human, animal, and environment sectors.
The One Health virtual conference brought together scientists, academia, health professionals, media, and advocates to discuss evidence-based approaches to tackling emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases which claim millions of lives across the globe every year. The knowledge synthesised from the conference will contribute to the existing scientific literature on One Health and improve preparedness and response to infectious disease outbreaks in Nigeria, and globally.
One area of priority highlighted by all the conference speakers was the need to promote individual as much as institutional action in the fight against infectious diseases. Everyone can make a difference by taking individual responsibility such as maintaining good personal and environmental hygiene, ensuring safe animal and food handling practices, adhering to safety advice from health authorities especially during disease outbreaks, etc. With an active and well-informed One Health community, health authorities in the country stand a better chance of strengthening the health system to prevent, detect and control zoonotic and other infectious diseases.
Through the NCDC and other One Health stakeholders, Nigeria continues to make significant strides toward implementing the One Health approach. One evidence of this effort is the fact that it is the first African country to launch a One Health strategic plan signed by the Ministers of Health, Agriculture, and Environment. Others include an effective response to zoonotic diseases and the institutionalisation of One Health within the structures of relevant MDAs of the Federal Government of Nigeria. By implementing the Nigeria Field Epidemiology Training Program (NFETP), Nigeria adopts a public health workforce development strategy to promote the One-health approach by continuously building the capacity of medical doctors, veterinarians, laboratory, and environmental scientists for outbreak response and public health research.
The One Health stakeholders are grateful for the opportunity of this conference to discuss challenges, review progress, and reiterate their shared commitment to building a nation of healthy people and healthy animals living in a balanced ecosystem while strengthening the national health system.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) is the country’s national public health institute, with the mandate to lead the preparedness, detection, and response to public health emergencies. The Bill for an Act to establish NCDC was signed into law in November 2018, by President Muhammadu Buhari. The mission for the NCDC is, ‘To protect the health of Nigerians through evidence-based prevention, integrated disease surveillance and response, using a One Health approach, guided by research and led by skilled workforce’.
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Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa
Nigeria Centre for Disease Control & Prevention