Agencies Commit to Strengthening One Health Research Capacities at Consultation Organised by RCZI

Recent years have seen Southeast Asia and South Asia being identified as a hotspot for infectious disease emergence. Complex interactions between human-animal-environment agencies added to population explosion, intensification of agriculture, weak systems and poor implementation frameworks have contributed to this scenario. Independent evaluations reveal lack of preparedness in the overall public health system that is largely due to the lack of capacity at both individual and institutional levels.

One Health Research for zoonoses, ecosystems and emerging public health risks
Animal, wildlife, veterinary and environment experts have been pressing for each sector to move out of their silos and converge to address the complexities that define this interface. One Health (OH) and EcoHealth with their multisectoral approach provide an ideal platform to identify and prepare these sectors to nullify some of the risk drivers. To make OH approaches more locally relevant, sustainable, and organic, development of local capacities is essential.

Dr. Arlyne A. Beeche, Senior Programme Officer, Agriculture & Environment, IDRC draws attention to the need to adopt an ecosystem approach to health. Watch the video

Within the PERIMILK study, RCBP aims to provide a platform to young researchers to explore an EcoHealth approach to undertake transdisciplinary, high quality and policy relevant research to address key knowledge gaps in dealing with public health risks in peri-urban areas. Specifically, the aim is to encourage and support them to research on issues related to local healthy food production, healthy livestock, and prevention and control of zoonotic diseases.

Dr. Hung Nguyen-Viet, Acting Regional Representative for East and Southeast Asia & Senior Scientist Ecohealth and Food Safety, International Livestock Research Institute. Watch the video

Against this backdrop, PHFI/RCZI held a one-day National Consultation on “Mainstreaming One Health Curricula in India” on 22nd July in New Delhi. Experts from human, animal and wildlife health shared their experiences and brainstormed on existing and future opportunities that can be leveraged to strengthen One Health research and capacity in India and within that the role that RCBP can play.

Dr. Pradeep Malik, Head, Department of Wildlife Health, WII emphasises the need for both short-term and long-term research projects exploring the wildlife-human-veterinary interface. Watch the video

Agencies-Commit-to-Strengthening-One-Health-Research-Capacities-1Rapid Review by PERIMILK study team provides valuable insights
A Rapid Review was conducted by the RCBP team to get a better idea of One Health Capacity Building (OHCB) programmes in the region. Designed as a Situation Analysis of OHCB Programmes in South Asia and Southeast Asia (SA/SEA), it analysed major/recurrent themes in these regions, undertook a bi-regional comparison of existing efforts in SEA versus SA and concluded by developing a framework for mainstreaming OHCB programmes in India. The review drew up a list of EcoHealth and One Health projects/initiatives in SA/SEA. Its findings pointed towards inadequate efforts currently in the domain of One Health research and capacity building. Experts deliberated on various aspects of the review and suggested ways of expanding it and looking at certain specific programmes in the region from which lessons could be drawn. There was consensus amongst the experts that given India’s vulnerability towards newer pathogens and re-emergence of older pathogens, the need to strengthen One Health capacities is clearly the need of the hour. For, once these capacities are built, they will lead to greater efficiencies in other areas of public health, including laboratory strengthening and better diagnostic facilities, amongst others.

Moving forward to further the One Health research agenda
The meeting concluded with a few joint decisions that included forming of an exclusive research and capacity building platform that can be used by relevant partners and agencies working in the area of One Health to share resources and developments. The Group that had been convened could be the nidus around which such a platform could be created. This would create greater buy-in for One Health research and capacity building in India.
The growing awareness on One Health in India and the enthusiasm amongst academia and other agencies to build capacities in OH research was well appreciated y the Group. Going forward, it was felt that it would be important for India to adapt its curricula keeping in mind these new realities and within that to see how One Health can be used to reduce zoonotic risks and improve system capacities.

Experts also appreciated that The Perimilk Study is one such example, the findings of which the global community would be able to use as they sharpen their response to deal with the complex issues of climate change, migration and other socio-economic-demographic events. Experts cautiously recognised that One Health must be seen more as an idea, ideology and a process that can facilitate the country/region’s specific concerns within the existing systems and frameworks.

RCZI agreed to take the lead in converting the Rapid Review into a publication. Partners were urged and they indicated willingness to promote the RCBP platform in their networks and to facilitate fresh enrolments for the Masters and Ph.D fellowships on One Health research. It was suggested to identify junior researchers who could submit proposals for RCBP with advocacy support from platforms such as ICMR-ICAR Research platform. The group also felt that an Advocacy workshop at the national level could be held towards the end of 2016 with international experts who could share their experience of OH frameworks and case studies along with discussion on specific steps to strengthen OHCB in India and South Asia.

The meeting which was held at IHC was attended by Dr. HR Khanna, Assistant Commissioner, Dept. of Animal Husbandry, Dairying& Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture; Dr. Hung Nguyen-Viet, Acting Regional Representative for East and Southeast Asia & Senior Scientist Ecohealth and Food Safety, International Livestock Research Institute, Vietnam, Dr. Arlyne A. Beeche, Senior Programme Officer, Agriculture & Environment, IDRC, Dr. Johanna Lindahal, Veterinary Epidemiologist, Food Safety and Zoonoses Programme, ILRI, Dr. Manju Rahi, Scientist, Division of Epidemiology & Communicable Disease, Indian Council of Medical Research; Dr. Ritu Singh Chauhan, National Professional Officer (Microbiology), WHO Country Office for India; Dr. Ashok Kumar, Assistant Director General (Animal Health), Indian Council of Agricultural Research; Dr. Pradeep K Mallik, Head-Dept. of Wildlife Health, Wildlife Institute of India; Dr. Premanshu Dandapat Senior Scientist, Indian Veterinary Research Institute and Dr. Sanjay Chaturvedi, Professor & Head-Dept. of Community Medicine, University College of Medical Sciences.

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