Group photo of the One Health workshop in Narok

Narok on the way to becoming a One Health champion county in Kenya

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the Narok County government recently hosted an engaging two-day workshop that sought to bridge the gap between human, animal and environmental health. The event revolved around reviewing progress and exchanging knowledge on past, ongoing and planned activities under the One Health concept, which targets a comprehensive and integrated approach to public health.

Held on 4–5 May 2023 in Narok County, Kenya, the workshop followed a previous meeting held between ILRI and Narok County in December 2021, where stakeholders identified key One Health challenges and opportunities in the county. This workshop included consultative sessions on partnerships for One Health projects in Narok County.

One Health is a multi-sector approach that recognizes the interconnectedness of human, animal and environmental health and employs a holistic perspective to better understand and solve public health threats. In Narok County, where livestock and wildlife-related production are key economic activities, the One Health approach can help to address the challenges of zoonotic diseases, food safety and antimicrobial resistance resulting from interactions between wildlife, livestock, humans and the environment.

Participants at the Narok One Health workshop (photo credit: ILRI/Geoffrey Njenga).

Participants at the Narok One Health workshop (photo credit: ILRI/Geoffrey Njenga).

Takeaways from key speakers

Queen Kimorgo, Narok’s chief officer for livestock development, highlighted the challenges faced by the county, such as climate change, disease outbreaks and antimicrobial resistance, and called for collaboration in mitigation: ‘Let us harness the bountiful resources of Narok County, recognize the vital role of livestock in livelihoods and nutrition, and unite under the One Health platform to overcome our challenges. Together, we can build a sustainable and healthy future for Narok County.’

Emphasizing the necessity for a unified approach to health service provision in Narok County, Lucy Kashu, the chief officer for preventive and promotive health services, underlined the immense potential for partnership in promoting health. She said harnessing collective efforts towards disease prevention would not only strengthen the county health system but also free up significant resources for vital sectors such as agriculture, livestock and education, thereby boosting the overall economy.

And Hung Nguyen, co-leader of the Animal and Human Health Program at ILRI and leader of the CGIAR Initiative on One Health, underscored the significance of the One Health approach in addressing vital challenges.

‘Our battles against zoonotic diseases, food safety issues and the rising tide of antimicrobial resistance emphasize the intricate bond between human and animal health. We must confront the profound impact of animal-originated infectious diseases on human health and stand together against the increasing deaths from antimicrobial resistance,’ Nguyen said.

Two ILRI graduate fellows, Daisy Chebet and Walter Oguta, presented their research on the urgent need for action to prevent antibiotic misuse and increase awareness among farmers. They emphasized the importance of policies and regulations to control the use of antibiotics in livestock production systems and a holistic approach to address antimicrobial resistance.

Towards the end of the workshop, the ILRI team held a side-meeting with senior county officials where they discussed getting the Narok One Health platform officially recognized by the top county leadership so that it is funded in the next budgeting cycle. They also discussed the possibility of a memorandum of understanding between the county and ILRI, to solidify their collaboration. The memorandum of understanding would serve as a formal agreement, outlining the shared goals and commitments in advancing the One Health approach in Narok County. Study results from Narok will be published as scientific articles and policy briefs, making it one of the One Health champion counties in Kenya.

The next steps involve ILRI’s One Health Research, Education and Outreach Centre in Africa (OHRECA), evaluating the competencies of the Narok One Health platform based on six criteria: One Health thinking, planning, working (operations), sharing, learning and system organization. This will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the platform by helping to identify gaps in the achievement of better health outcomes for both humans and animals. Meanwhile, discussions are ongoing to expedite the implementation of the action points from the workshop.

This work is supported by the CGIAR Initiative on One Health and the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development through OHRECA. We thank all funders who supported this research through their contributions to the CGIAR Trust Fund.

Read more about One Health research at ILRI:

Watch video highlights of the workshop below.