Tanzania opts for ‘One Health’ in disease control

What you need to know:

  • For ease of management, the choice integrates and holistically tackles issues relating to the health of people, animals and the world

Arusha. Tanzania is making good progress on infectious disease control through integrating the ‘One Health’ approach.

The option addresses human, animal and planetary health in an integrated and holistic manner for easier tackling.

Through ‘One Health’, major disease outbreaks are being coordinated at the disaster management level by multiple agencies.

Salum Manyata, as assistant director in the Prime Minister’s Office said the government was progressing well in the endeavour.

“The government has a ‘One Health’ strategic plan 2022-27 and recently finalised implementation guidelines,” he said.  The guidelines in question are geared to institutionalize the desired approach from national, regional village and ward levels.

‘One Health’ approach, he added, during a recent conference, was important as more than 60 percent of human diseases come from animals, especially wild ones.

In Tanzania, Mr Manyata explained, the focus is on zoonoses (diseases originating from animals) such as anthrax, rabies, Rift Valley fever and other haemorrhagic fevers. Other diseases on the radar are sleeping sickness, brucellosis and what he describes as new and emerging diseases such as Covid-19.

Other areas of concern are antimicrobial resistance due to misuse of antibiotics in treating humans and livestock.

He went on to say that the role of ‘One Health’ section is to coordinate early detection of a disease outbreak “and response if need be”.

The multi-pronged approach would enable communities from district, ward and village levels “to take charge of health disasters”.

Close collaboration among stakeholders in the health sector and beyond would lead to “control and prevention of emerging diseases”.

However, the medical expert admitted that there was a low awareness of ‘One Health’ concept among the health practitioners.

He underscored the need for Tanzania to invest both in the infrastructure and human resources in order to build capacity for preparedness, prevention response and recovery. 

Dr Martien van Njiewkoon, another expert, said about 70 percent of the diseases are zoonotic in nature.

“They spread from animals to humans and, therefore, we have to address this from ‘One Health’ perspective”, added the World Bank’s global director of Agriculture and Food Security.

Dr. Namukolo Covic, a researcher from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) said the world has learned a lot because Covid-19 is suspected to have jumped from animals to human beings.

Traffic, a global NGO monitoring the trade in wild animals and plants, recently warned that the East African region was at risk of more outbreaks of zoonotic diseases.

The diseases were likely to be fueled by the increasing temperatures, which is favourable for the transmission of pathogens.

The region has abundant free-ranging livestock and wildlife and interfaces with humans, so the transmission risks could be much higher.

The tropical climate in East Africa, Tanzania included, hosts favourable conditions for transmission of various zoonotic diseases.

Dr Daniel Mdetele, a veterinary expert, says zoonotic diseases do not only lead to morbidities and mortalities but disrupt trade.

“As it was during the recent Covid-19, zoonotics negatively impacted the economy in developing and developed countries,” he said.