Stakeholders urged to join forces to prevent zoonoses

STAKEHOLDERS in the health sector have been urged to join forces with the government in providing education, especially at the community level on how people can protect themselves from infectious diseases transmitted from animals to human beings.

The call was made by the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (Policy, Parliament and Coordination), Jenista Mhagama, during the launch of the ‘One Health’ National Conference 2023 held recently in Dodoma.

She said the cooperation is crucial at the moment as the government continues to raise awareness among the public on issues related to health.

One Health is an integrated, unifying approach that focuses on sustainably balancing and optimising the health of people, animals and ecosystems.

“It is obvious that the community should take full responsibility for taking action to safeguard not only their own health but also the health of the nearby animals and the environment,” she said.

She said that there has been a rise in zoonotic diseases as a result of the extensive human and animal interplay in social and economic activities, behaviors and life patterns, as well as variations in weather and environment.

Elaborating further, she said, it is estimated that, globally, about one billion cases of illness and millions of deaths occur every year from zoonoses. Some 60 per cent of emerging infectious diseases that are reported globally are zoonoses.

She noted that over 30 new human pathogens have been detected in the last 3 decades, 75 per cent of which have originated in animals.

“This challenge is huge and requires collective efforts to handle these diseases and other cross-impacting events using a One Health approach,” she said.

However, Ms Mhagama noted that the government, through her ministry, will continue to strengthen the operational systems for disaster management in line with the National Disaster Management Policy of 2004 and the Disaster Management Act No. 6 of the year 2022.

In a similar vein, she urged the private sector, development stakeholders, ministries, departments and public institutions to keep stepping up their efforts to implement disaster management issues in their domains in order to guarantee that all development initiatives serve the larger interests of our nation.

“Each sector should actively participate in research on zoonoses, environmental protection, drug-resistant infections, food safety and nutrition and non-communicable diseases,” she stressed.

She said the zoonotic diseases are rabies, Rift Valley fever, viral fevers that cause haemorrhagic diseases (Marburg and Ebola), zoonotic influenza, anthrax, African sleeping sickness (trypanosomiasis) and Brucellosis.

Detailing the purpose of the conference, Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office (Policy, Parliament and Coordination), Dr Jim Yonazi, said the goal is for key experts to get together and discuss the areas to strengthen the implementation of the One Health approach in order to have disaster resilience in the nation.

He said his office is responsible for coordinating and managing disasters caused by epidemic diseases affecting humans, animals and plants in accordance with the Disaster Management Act and the National Disaster Management Strategy (2022–2027).

On November 3rd, One Health Day promotes efforts worldwide to bring together health disciplines that affect humans, animals and the environment. The day also recognises how closely shared environments impact human health.

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