New One Health centre in Africa announces advisory committee members

A young Samburu herder cradles a kid 5 kms to the west of Oldonyiro town in Isiolo County, Kenya (photo credit: ILRI Livestock CRP/ Kabir Dhanji).

The One Health Research, Education and Outreach Centre in Africa (OHRECA), which is led by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), has set up an advisory committee of 10 members to guide its activities over the next few years. 

The advisory committee members include scientists and policymakers from Africa, Europe and North America.  They will guide the OHRECA in implementing its work in Africa. The committee members are:

  • Bassirou Bonfoh, director of Afrique One-African Science Partnership for Intervention Research Excellence (ASPIRE); 
  • Doreen Robinson, chief for wildlife ecosystems division at the United Nations Environmental Programme; 
  • Keith Sumption, director of zoonoses and antimicrobial resistance and chief veterinary officer at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO);
  • Amare Ayalew, manager of the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa;
  • Cardee Wright, senior specialist scientist at the Environment and Health Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council;
  • Gladys Zikusoka, founder and CEO of Conservation Through Public Health;
  • Jacqueline McGlade of the Sustainable Development and Digital Analytics Institute for Public Policy and Governance;
  • Jean-Phillippe Dop, deputy director general, World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE);
  • Joseph Ndung’u, executive director, Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) Dx Kenya; and
  • Thomas Mettenleiter, president, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut (FLI).  

Speaking during the first meeting of the advisory committee, Jimmy Smith, ILRI’s director general, said the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need for a One Health approach in human health research. ‘While a One Health approach cannot guarantee that we can stop a pandemic, it can help us detect them early enough, and detection alone can yield dividends because the cost of controlling a pandemic rises steeply with time and we should not wait until viruses with pandemic potential infect people.’

One Health is the collaborative, multi-sectorial and transdisciplinary approach that works at the local, regional, national and international levels to achieve optimal health outcomes by recognizing the interconnection between people, animals and their shared environment

The One Health centre in Africa will deliver research for development by implementing a One Health approach under four main themes: preventing emerging infectious diseases, controlling neglected zoonoses, ensuring safe food, and reducing antimicrobial resistance. Enhancing capacity development, generating evidence to drive policies and components of socio-economics and gender are integral components that will contribute to each of the thematic areas. 

Bonfoh said he was honoured to join the advisory committee and to be selected chair of OHRECA. ‘Afrique One-ASPIRE was chosen as a strategic-partners of OHRECA, which will allow collaboration with West African partners who have synergies related to OHRECA’s themes and activities.’ He added that the new partnership will advance the sharing of knowledge on important diseases and development of evidence to benefit communities in sub-Saharan Africa. 

Robinson, who is vice chair of OHRECA, said her experience in policy development and implementation will help in identifying partnerships that will be useful to the One Health centre’s work. FAO’s Sumption acknowledged the significant pressure in the world today for research organizations to adapt their work to cater for the welfare of the environment. ‘We need to ensure that the health of the environment is properly addressed in OHRECA’s activities,’ he said. 

Funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the One Health Research, Education and Outreach Centre in Africa will enhance human, animal and environmental health by developing capacity in One Health, supporting One Health network initiatives across sub-Saharan African and developing pathways from evidence to policies and practices. 

The centre will be officially launched on 22 October 2020 at an event held at ILRI in Nairobi, Kenya. 

Learn more about OHRECA by visiting the project’s website here

Learn more about the CGIAR’s work in tackling antimicrobial resistance and ILRI’s work on zoonoses

Read a joint report by UNEP and ILRI on preventing the next pandemic.