In a Kampala markedly hotter than usual, two participants in a March 19 COHESA forum at Makerere University debated in earnest whether the temperatures were a One Health issue. 

In long, engaging deliberations, scientists discussed the One Health space in Uganda, and how to ensure the country optimized on available opportunities to achieve the elusive holistic One Health.

A team of researchers, drawn largely from academia and research institutions, sat to validate One Health net mapping and baseline reports for the COHESA project in Uganda.

And through the sessions- presentation of baseline survey results, group discussions, plenary- it came out that while human and animal health were vastly mentioned in One Health, environment health was often overlooked. 

Actors in environmental health are largely ignored, and there was a debate on whether it is clear who these players actually were, and if the prioritization of human health was due to innate, human selfishness. This is a bigger, recurring issue, participants noted, because often, experts work in isolation, failing to capitalize on an opportunity to synergise and make good their collective influence. 

While discussing results of a net-mapping, Justine Okello noted that Uganda is a hotspot for One Health challenges, with rampant disease outbreaks, such as ebola, time and again devastating the country.  

Yet the country lacks the capacity to battle most of these challenges, suffering due to insufficient capacity, lack of enough collaboration, inadequate funding and lack of proper integration. 

Better engagement of the political class, faith-based institutions and civil society organisations will help researchers connect with the public, due to those groups’ close association with, and trust by, masses. 

The linkages discussed as potentially beneficial among players were funding, collaboration, capacity building, and advocacy. 

Members agreed that with good awareness, deliberate funding would enable the proliferation of One Health ideas, as learning institutions foster deeper collaborations amongst themselves, and the curriculum is revised to ensure introduction of One Health from the lowest levels of education. 

Thematic areas under validation were research and innovation, governance, education, and implementation. The participants emphasized the need for a One Health Policy, as was the importance of a raft of detailed stakeholder mappings to understand linkages, and to plot a way forward.