On 19 January, the East Africa Community (EAC) Secretariat with the support of the GIZ Global Programme Pandemic Prevention and Response, One Health (GP PPOH) convened the First EAC Annual Partners’ Forum on One Health in Arusha, Tanzania. One Health (OH) represents a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to health that recognizes the interconnectedness and interdependence of humans, animals and the environment.
Under the theme “Strengthening pandemic preparedness and response in East Africa through One Health: The power of partnerships", the forum provided a platform for stakeholders to explore the potential for enhanced OH coordination and collaboration in the EAC with the aim to strengthening and institutionalizing the OH approach in the EAC region.
It brought together over 100 partners implementing and supporting the OH approach in the region. Experts from the public sector, international agencies, civil society as well as academia shared their lessons learnt and discussed possible actions to prevent and respond to future pandemics in the EAC. All discussions reflected on the experiences made during the COVID-19 pandemic and other recent disease outbreaks in the region.
“We need to build community capacity and ensure that One Health is cascaded down to the community,” urged Samuel Wanjohi, Kenya Country Manager, Africa One Health University Network (AFROHUN), underlining the central role of local communities to implement the OH approach in practice.
The forum also presented an opportunity to highlight the commitments made by the EAC Secretariat, Partner States and other OH stakeholders in the region as demonstrated in the Regional EAC One Health Strategy 2022-2027, which was adopted by the Ministers of Health of EAC Partner States in July 2022. The strategy aims at promoting and institutionalizing a multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary OH approach in the region.
Being the first of its kind, the forum established grounds for increased OH stakeholder engagement in the region. Participants jointly developed recommendations for intensified advocacy, partnerships and coordination around pandemic prevention and response in the future.
“Achieving the overarching goal of the Regional EAC One Health Strategy will require coordination across sectors and collaboration through joint efforts and engagement of relevant stakeholders at all levels from the community to the regional level, with support on the continent and globally”, noted Dr Irene Isaka, Director Social Sectors, EAC.
The Global Programme on Pandemic Prevention and Response, One Health (GP PPOH) is part of the EAC-German technical development cooperation, implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
Find more information on EAC and Health here.
Find more information on the GP PPOH project here.