In your own words, what is One Health and how does it fit in your daily activities?
One Health is an understanding that the health on this planet including the universe as a whole is interconnected. As a veterinary doctor, I realize that I have been practicing One Health in Zambia through my private practice as early as when I had my first degree. I have always been passionate about the link between human and animal health by encouraging traditional ivestock keepers and rural women dairy farmers to adhere to milk and meat withdrawal periods during livestock treatment.
What are the challenges in implementing a One Health approach for Zambia?
Zambia faces several health challenges ranging from zoonotic diseases, emerging infectious diseases, and food/feed insecurity to climate change. One Health is a relatively novel practice in the country that can efficiently address these issues. However, being an approach, it can mean different things to different people in different settings. There is a need for a gold standard definition for One Health. As an actor in the One Health landscape, I would say the main challenge as a country that we face around One Health is inadequate legislation that can fully operationalize One Health practice.
What is the greatest achievement for Zambia in One Health?
Without a doubt, our biggest win for One Health in Zambia was the successful drafting and launch of our National One Health Strategic Plan, 2022-2026 (OHSP). The OHSP was co-signed and jointly launched by the three ministries responsible for human, animals and the environment. It was the crowning act of a series of workshops and events held before it such as the National Bridging Workshop, the workshop to determine OH priorities for Zambia, and the regional One Health science communication and leadership training organized by the Capacitating One Health in Eastern and Southern Africa (COHESA) project in Nairobi, Kenya on November 2022.
What lessons can you share from your involvement in Zambia’s One Health progress so far?
While we can celebrate the headways in One Health as a country, there is still a long way to go. I would say One Health should be the very definition of health itself. One Health is often regarded as an approach separate from what we routinely define as health. One Health reminds us that health in one, is health for all, and the reverse is equally true. Multi-sectoral collaboration still needs to be emphasized within the country’s platform for the coordination of One Health. A national and regional commitment to supporting One Health efforts in harmony is also necessary as we learn from our neighbor’s success stories. With the help of multiple stakeholders including COHESA, we are working with neighbors such as Malawi to support them with the development of their OH Strategic Plan
Dr. Raymond Hamoonga is the National Coordinator for One Health in Zambia under the Zambia National Public Health Institute (ZNPHI)