Collaborative effective tackle Tripartite One Health

The government and the University of Namibia have developed the National Tripartite One Health Strategy to ensure the health and well-being of humans, fauna, and the natural environment.

This aims to sustainably balance and optimize the health of humans, animals, plants, and ecosystems. A global increase in emergent and re-emerging pathogens has caused significant strain on public health systems in recent years, particularly in developing countries. Many countries recognize the benefits of a One Health approach to building national coordination, communication, and collaboration mechanisms to respond to and address public health threats.

According to the Minister of Health, Kalumbi Shangula, many nations understand the advantages of implementing a One Health strategy when creating national frameworks for cooperation, coordination, and communication to respond to and manage the risks to public health. Shangula further said that zoonotic and vector-borne pathogens can have a severe effect, leading to significant illness and mortality in humans and financial losses from the halted commerce in animals and animal products.

“The International Health Regulations of 2005 came into force in 2007. Since 2007, there have been six declarations of Public Health Emergencies of International Concern (PHEIC), starting with the H1N1 influenza in 2009,” said Shangula.

In subsequent years, the world recorded several disease outbreaks and public health emergencies such as Zika, Cholera, and Ebola and the re-emergence of other infections. Namibia was not spared. Diseases like malaria and, most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic with high morbidity and mortality have all been expected in the nation in recent years.

The One Health approach is crucial, as reports indicate that 75% of emerging pathogens known to cause epidemics affecting humans are of zoonotic origin, meaning transmitted from animals. “All the problems of climate change impact arthropod and wildlife distributions, human well-being, ecosystem integrity, and resilience, and consequently contribute to the proliferation of vector-borne pathogens and diseases.

“With the abundance of wildlife and livestock in the country, there is an increase in human-wildlife conflict in shared environments.

Moreover, many zoonotic diseases have been reported, including anthrax, Foot and Mouth Disease, brucellosis, Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), and other tick-borne pathogens,” added Shangula.

According to the Joint External Evaluation in 2016 and the State Party Annual Report on IHR Core Capacities of 2023, Namibia must enhance its One Health capabilities and cooperate with other sectors to combat zoonosis.  This highlights the need to accelerate actions to strengthen the One Health Multisector Coordinating Mechanism that this Tripartite One Health National Strategy will guide.

Shangula further cited a need for strong collaboration on interventions in human health and the animal health sectors. The government will allocate an amount of more than N$ 4,050 136 annually to support the implementation of the One Health Strategy. This translates to N$16 200 544 over the Strategy’s 4-year implementation period.

Furthermore, it will cover direct allocation to specific interventions in the priority sectors, activities for implementing the National Plan of Action for Health Security (NAPHS), and other sector-related operational costs. “The implementation of the Tripartite One Health National Strategy will be reviewed annually by the One Health Multisector Coordinating Committee and its activities will be integrated into the implementation of existing strategies,” added Shangula. Namibia is also pursuing the creation of the Namibia Institute of Public Health, which will be crucial in coordinating the readiness and reaction of our nation to public health catastrophes.