Achievements on One Health after Uppsala Health Summit 2017


Meet Dr. Alex Riolexus Ario at Uganda National Institute of Public Health

In 2017 the focus at Uppsala Health Summit was on infectious diseases and how risks be reduced through greater collaboration between animal and human health practitioners under the umbrella of One Health.

In this interview, one of the delegates, Dr. Alex Riolexus Ario of The Uganda National Institute of Public Health reflects on the progress of the One Health approach in his country and on how Uppsala Health Summit helped them to takes steps towards where they are today. 

- How would you describe the One Health Agenda in Uganda today, e.g. efforts at the government, academic and industry level to respond to the call for greater collaboration between different scientific disciplines?

One Health has gained a lot of momentum since the platform was launched in Uganda on 3rd November, 2016. At the time of the launch, we only had a One Health framework and a Memorandum of Understanding amongst the lead sectors, i.e. the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, the Ministry of Health, the Uganda Wildlife Authority and the Ministry of Water and Environment.

Community dialogue preparing for how to meet new vector borne diseases

Since the launch of the One Health Platform, a number of achievements has been realized including: Jointly prioritizing seven zoonoses in the country; development of the one health strategic plan, 2018-2022; establishment of the one health communication strategy; joint investigation of zoonoses such as Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, anthrax, Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever, Rift Valley Fever among others.

We have also developed a One Health manual for field staff with support from FAO and established and trained District One Health teams in high risk districts to mirror the national level.

On the national level there is now a One Health network for the private sector.

The One Health Technical Working Group enlarged the scope of collaborations especially when addressing trade related zoonoses such as Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza.

- An outbreak of Ebola is raging on the other side of the border – in what way does this influence the awareness of the importance of the One Health approach? 

The Ebola outbreak has attracted various stakeholders, partners and agencies to the national One Health Platform, which has sent out multidisciplinary teams to the field to conduct assessment and risk mapping for Ebola Virus Disease Preparedness, adopting a One Health approach. This achievement was reached thanks to collaboration with i.a. the National Task Force on Epidemic Preparedness and Response.  

So, yes, the platform has influenced the general awareness of One Health in the country, and the strength of partnership was clear in the activities responding to the most recent Ebola outbreak.

- In what way have you and your organization benefitted from the contacts or insights that you made at the summit in Uppsala?

One of the benefits was the insights in how a One Health platform can be strengthened to achieve better coordination at different levels.

For instance, the mechanisms of data-sharing at the national level with lower government levels to aid early detection of cases and early response and access to technologies for better coordination at the One Health platform are critical to run a One Health policy.

When the One Health policy is established, we will look into how to get annual budget allocations to ensure its sustainability.