PMO introduces unit for controlling zoonotic diseases

THE Prime Minister’s Office has formed a special department to deal with matters pertaining to monitoring and control prevalence of infectious diseases transmitted from animals to human beings within the country under the ‘One Health Strategy’.

Formerly, all interventions pertaining to professional handling of effects of zoonotic pathogens on human and animal health in the country were being handled by the special desk operated under the PM’s office.

But, the government has now decided to improve the section in order to speed-up war against the diseases.

Over the weekend, key experts and stakeholders, including health professionals (medical and veterinary), social, economic, agricultural, environmental and others convened here for two days to draft a viable roadmap through which the introduced department will work effectively to help negate spread of zoonotic diseases in the country.

On the sidelines of the meeting, Dr Henry Magwisa, a veterinary officer from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said the newly-formed department was among a series of strategies by the government to ensure implementation of ‘One Health’ was fetching needed results in Tanzania.

“We convened here for two days to brainstorm and develop a general roadmap over how the newly-introduced department will work professionally to deliver needed results in curbing the fast-spread of the zoonotic diseases within the country,” Dr. Magwisa briefed.

He added, to start with, the department- comprising high profile health experts from the livestock, human health and environmental sides- has been tasked to deal with at least six zoonotic diseases that have been found to have been related to human, animal, and environmental health in Tanzania.

“The six diseases in question include rabies diseases, rift valley fever, bird fever, anthrax, African sleeping sickness (trypanosomiasis) and brucellosis,” he unveiled.

On his part, Dr. Andrew Kitua, an experienced health expert who attended the meeting observed that implementation of the ‘One Heath’ in the country was prudent in helping the country to battle against prevalence of zoonotic diseases.

“One Health is a global vital strategic approach for effective surveillance, monitoring and control of infectious diseases compromising health in both humans and animals, but in order for this approach to work effectively in Tanzania, there’s a need for joint effort from stakeholders from all spheres of health professionals,” he observed.

He laid emphasis for the country to strengthen health service delivery systems to ensure there’s close (day-to-day) cooperation among experts from human, environment and livestock health sides to ease the work of monitoring implementation of the One Health Strategy’.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), zoonoses diseases affect mainly poor and marginalized populations in low-resource settings, at a far tune of about 2.7 billion people worldwide every year, and are commonly associated with poverty and impact the lives and livelihoods of millions of poor livestock keepers or those living in peri-urban slums primarily in developing countries.

In Tanzania, little is known about the incidence of many zoonoses while estimated incidence of diseases such as brucellosis in general is not known but reports from pastoralists in northern Tanzania indicate that about 7.7 percent of people are infected.

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