A webinar moderated by Land O’Lakes Venture37 focused on the opportunities and challenges involved in scaling up One Health in the livestock sector globally and featured several ILRI scientists, including Kristina Roesel, Bernard Bett and Bedesa Eba Tebeje. The webinar, held on 22 Sep., was titled 'The Critical Crossroads of Animal, Human, and Environmental Health: Scaling Up One Health'.
As Roesel pointed out, scaling up One Health in the livestock sector is crucial in addressing the sector’s challenges—particularly regarding nutrition, health and food security. Although instrumental for the livelihoods of people in the Global South, where populations continue to increase, the presence of more livestock carries with it its own round of human, animal and environmental risks—whether they be zoonotic disease spillover or greenhouse gas emissions. One Health can address these challenges through key elements like preparation, detection and response. According to Roesel, one of the hurdles faced by countries in the Global South is inadequate data for surveillance and monitoring. Improving these mechanisms can save money in the long run.
Despite the present challenges, work is already being done to scale up One Health practices and policies in Africa, as Bett indicated. Through national and subnational institutionalization, as well as a focused effort on quality refinements, ILRI hopes to expand the coverage of One Health across Africa. Some of their work entails strengthening the network of One Health platforms, identifying areas where interventions can yield improvements, and building the capacity of technical expertise in the field through graduate fellowship programs. One major obstacle in scaling up One Health remains the prioritization of curative services over preventative ones. Yet, despite these challenges, there is already strong local interest in building One Health platforms.
Another avenue of opportunity is the integration of One Health into rangelands, which support millions of pastoralists for livestock production, as Bedesa Eba Tebeje pointed out. Bringing together One Health with rangeland management can greatly and positively impact the livelihoods of many communities. By partnering with local rangeland institutions and local government, it becomes possible to maintain reasonable pasture areas and reduce the concentration of livestock. As a result, environmental strain can be reduced, and the spread of disease and parasites can be limited. According to Tebeje, healthy rangelands lead to healthy animals, healthy livestock products, and ultimately, healthy people.
When asked which part of One Health changes, partners, or program implementation has been the most difficult, Bett responded that the government sector has been the most cumbersome because other actors will adjust to an intervention if they view it as beneficial, whereas governments must implement rules and policies, making it more of a challenge. The primary take away from the various opportunities and challenges in scaling up One Health in the livestock sector is that leveraging those opportunities and overcoming those obstacles requires coordination across the research, government and private sectors. As Christine Jost from USAID put it, this effort is not just an approach to research, but also policy, practice, and ultimately one that emphasizes the ‘inextricable linkages between all three’.
For more information on One Health and related projects at ILRI, click here
For information on the One Health for Humans, Environment, Animals, and Livelihoods (HEAL) Project, click here
Photo: Dairying in Bomet District Kenya (Paul Karaimu/ILRI)