Charting a Path to Healthier Africa: AU One Health Strategy for Zoonotic Diseases Takes Shape

Mon, 23-10-2023 15:00:00

Event: Interagency AU One Health Coordination Meeting (October 23-24, 2023, Africa CDC Headquarters, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)

In a world where borders blur, diseases know no boundaries, affecting both humans and animals alike. This reality, coupled with urban density, increased globalization, and the changing dynamics of our environment, underscores the urgent need for a unified approach to health – a vision that the African Union (AU) is boldly championing through the African Union Interagency Group on One Health.

Set against the backdrop of these pressing challenges, Interagency AU One Health Coordination Meeting is meeting from October 23-24, 2023, at the Africa CDC Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and represents a significant milestone in the continent's commitment to a healthier, more sustainable future.

Objectives and Significance
The objectives outlined for the Interagency AU One Health Coordination Meeting are both ambitious and of utmost importance:
1.    Development of the AU One Health Strategy for Zoonotic Diseases: Crafted meticulously, this strategy will serve as a guiding light, illuminating the path toward a more resilient health structure in Africa.
2.    Inventory and Assessment: The meeting will conduct a thorough inventory of ongoing Zoonotic Disease Prevention and Control activities. This assessment is pivotal, offering insights into existing initiatives and areas that require enhanced focus.
3.    Collaboration and Coordination: By bringing together experts from diverse fields, the meeting fosters collaboration and coordination among AU institutions. This synergy is essential for a cohesive, continent-wide approach to health challenges on the continent.

Understanding the Context
Africa's rich tapestry of biodiversity, intertwined with its growing human population and the movement of animals, presents a complex ecosystem. It's within this intricate web that zoonotic diseases – illnesses that spread between animals and humans – find fertile ground. The consequences of these diseases are not limited to health; they permeate into economic stability, food security, and social well-being.

The AU's Vision: One Health for All
Recognizing the critical need for collaboration, the AU has devised a comprehensive strategy – One Health. This holistic approach emphasizes the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health. By unifying efforts across various sectors and stakeholders, the One Health approach seeks to create a resilient framework capable of addressing the challenges posed by zoonotic diseases, environmental changes, and habitat overlap.

The Birth of the African Union Interagency Group on One Health
At the heart of the AU's One Health initiative lies the African Union Interagency Group on One Health. This collaborative entity, comprising representatives and technical experts from diverse sectors including the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the African Union InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), Pan African Veterinary Vaccine Centre( AU-PANVAC), Pan African Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Eradication Campaign – PATTEC, Division of Environment, Climate Change, Water and Land Matters,  AIDS, TB, Malaria and Other Infectious Diseases (OIDs), the Civil Society Division, AU-IAPSC,NEPAD and Division of Health, Nutrition and Population, Scientific, Technical and Research Commission (STRC),CVOs and many others, stand as a testament to the AU's dedication to forging a healthier Africa. This composition of stakeholders is attending the meeting.

Looking Ahead
As delegates converge in Addis Ababa for the Interagency AU One Health Coordination Meeting, the spirit of collaboration and determination permeates the air. This event is not just a meeting; it's a gathering of minds committed to shaping a healthier, more prosperous Africa.

In the face of unprecedented global challenges, the AU's resolute commitment to the One Health approach stands as a beacon of hope. Through collaborative efforts and a shared vision, Africa is poised to overcome health divides, ensuring a brighter, healthier future for all its inhabitants. The Interagency AU One Health Coordination Meeting represents a significant stride toward this collective goal, promising a legacy of improved health, resilience, and unity across the continent.