22 March 2019, Musanze, Rwanda – Stakeholders of the One Health platform in Rwanda reviewed the ending Rwanda One Health strategic plan (ROHSP) 2014-2018, with an aim of taking stock of the successes recorded as well as proposing activities to be included in the upcoming strategic plan.
The 5 year plan carried three main goals; 1) to promote and strengthen interdisciplinary collaboration and partnerships in One Health approach; 2) Strengthen surveillance, early detection, rapid response, prevention and control of zoonosis within the one health approach; and 3) Building capacity and promote applied research at the human-animal-ecosystem interface.
The review of the strategic plan is one the activities of the One Health platform benefiting technical support of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) through the project “Provision of technical support for the One Health platform in Rwanda” under the FAO Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) programme funded by USAID.
The chair of the One Health steering committee, Isidore Gafarasi Mapendo of Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB), said that the joint and collaborative efforts have yielded results in the past especially in surveillance and response, citing examples of joint outbreak investigations and responses conducted on Rift Valley fever, Anthrax, Rabies, Tuberculosis and Cholera, Ebola, among others.
“In 2017 we received information on the death of wild bird in Entebbe around Victoria and Masaka in Uganda. We worked together to prevent the disease from entering Rwanda. Following an alert from the farmers in Bugarama, Institutions in the One Health platform made a joint field visit to the site to assess the situation,” said Gafarasi.
Guiding the development of the One Health Plan
Rwanda One Health strategic plan was established to initiate sharing commitment and collaborative effort to prevent and control emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases in order to attain optimal health for people, animals and the environment.
For sustainability, the plan would ensure utilization of existing institutions during implementation, and being science-based, it would continually adjust to new information and technologies and to the changing environment.
The FAO Representative in Rwanda, Gualbert Gbehounou, addressing the workshop encouraged multi-sectoral collaboration using One Health approach including engaging the public and private sectors, to work collaboratively to develop and implement innovative solutions for improving the prevention and control of zoonoses.
During the consultative workshop, One Health stakeholders put forward inputs for the new strategic plan including, the new structure of the One Health steering committee and the new One Health strategic plan 2019-2023. Stakeholders hope to see the One Health platform visible in the government’s structure.
Representing the health sector, the acting Director General of Rwanda Food and Drugs Authority (Rwanda FDA), Charles KARANGWA called for much emphasis to be drawn on governance and addressing antimicrobial resistance diseases. He also pledged the support of the Ministry of Health to take the One Health platform to another level.
“The new strategic plan under formulation should focus on food safety and antimicrobial resistance antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and zoonotic disease and governance,” he emphasized.
The strategic plan guides the government of Rwanda on how to tackle deal with human, animal and plant health related complex problems using an integrative and comprehensive institutional, legislative and technical framework.
The One Health strategic plan’s vision and mission are aligned with the vision 2020 and other national strategic documents.
One Health in Rwanda
In Rwanda, the One Health Platform has been in place since 2011 and it has been one of the pioneer country in Eastern Africa.
It is headed by the steering committee with members from the public institutions; the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Rwanda Development, Ministry of Education, Rwanda Environment Management Authority, Ministry of environment, Ministry in charge of emergency management, and development partners namely, World Health Organization, USAID and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The formulation of the One Health platform was driven by a number of factors such as, the emerging global pandemic threat caused by the H5N1; Flu A H1N1, and recently Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and ad hoc response to zoonoses outbreaks due to lack of integrated government funding.
Some of the impediments to effective implementation of the One Health platform have been, weak early warning, surveillance and rapid response capacity; mindset of professional and partners to work in multidisciplinary framework; and sustainable implementation of the activities.
The goal of the platform is to;
- strengthen disease surveillance in human and animal health in Rwanda,
- foster establishment of close interactions between human and animal health to improve public health,
- develop a sustainable national strategic plan improving public health based on the principles of One Health,
- create awareness within the veterinary and medical professions and others relevant stakeholders; and
- establish a surveillance and response system especially zoonosis.