Today (3 November 2023), the world observes One Health Day, emphasizing the interdependence of human, animal, plant and environmental health. The Capacitating One Health in Eastern and Southern Africa (COHESA) project is at the forefront of this movement, operating across 12 countries in east and southern Africa. Its overarching aim is to build capacity to deal with threats and issues which are best suited to a One Health approach. The project focuses on One Health governance, education, research and implementation, enabling multi-sectoral collaboration between governmental bodies and stakeholders.

To mark One Health day, COHESA is launching a One Health Observatory. Established as an international initiative under the project’s umbrella, the observatory serves as an online, centralized hub for sharing and documenting the status of One Health implementation and activities in the 12 selected countries; with ambitions to extend its scope to additional nations within north, central and west Africa. Besides knowledge sharing, the site will allow the numerous stakeholders  interested in One Health to see what is being done in the different countries. This will help identify potential collaborations and avoid duplication, with rapid identifications of supporting documents and materials across the broad and complex One Health landscape.

Theo Knight Jones leading COHESA from ILRI shares,  ‘The increasing recognition of the importance of One Health approaches in addressing human, animal and environmental health threats has led to an explosion of activities in this complex and diverse space. The One Health Observatory will act as a one-stop shop for people wanting to know the status of One Health implementation in a country including information on the major threats and actions. Through this, synergies can be identified and accelerated, and duplication avoided.’

The One Health Observatory will share information on three COHESA focus areas: Governance, Research and Education, and One Health Delivery, stressing the importance of cooperation between diverse groups to realise resilience to threats.

Governance: This aims to institutionalise One Health by creating and strengthening One Health platforms within governments and across departments.
Research and Education: Here, the focus is on partnering with educational and research institutions that have the potential to make a meaningful impact using the One Health approach. The aim is to expand inclusion of One Health within secondary, tertiary, and vocational education.
One Health Delivery: This concentrates on operationalising One Health activities, bridging the gap between theoretical solutions and practical implementation or operationalisation. The objective is to achieve sustainable solutions through collaboration with both public and private service providers.

‘Africa must develop and institutionalise its One Health frameworks, ensuring they are operational at all levels. Inter-ministerial collaboration is crucial for establishing the necessary legal, administrative, and technical structures. A diverse network of professionals requires capacity building to operationalise these frameworks effectively. The One Health observatory can serve as a pivotal platform for sharing information and experiences within Africa, thereby enhancing regional capacity, shares Alexandra Caron from CIRAD

COHESA has been supported by the European Union Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) Research and Innovations Programme, part of the African, Caribbean, and Pacific-European Union (ACP-EU) initiative. It operates in partnership with three international organisations: the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the French Agriculture Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), and the International Services for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA-AfriCenter). These organisations collectively aim to fulfill the project’s diverse objectives by working closely with in-country partners.

‘By availing information on One Health trends, easy-to-use knowledge products and experiences, the Observatory will deepen understanding of essential attributes to nurture for a fully functional One Health Platform in focus countries,’ says Margaret Karembu, director ISAAA AfriCenter and COHESA consortium member

Visit the One Health Observatory

Re-blogged from ILRI