Stopping the global rise of high-impact zoonotic and food-borne diseases, and antimicrobial resistance

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has a strong track record of interdisciplinary expertise and experience in developing sustainable livestock production systems in Africa and Asia. To further strengthen its mission to improve food and nutritional security and reduce poverty in developing countries, the institution has aligned its activities to strengthen interdisciplinary research and build One Health research capacity at national and regional levels. The aim is to improve the lives, livelihoods and wellbeing of the people in the Global South by building healthy, sustainable and resilient animal production systems at the human, animal and environmental interface. 

ILRI’s One Health strategy will carry out activities under three interconnected pillars, namely technical, policy and institutional, with the long-term mission to further strengthen as a center of excellence for a collective interdisciplinary partnership. It will promote One Health collaboration among CGIAR centers and other international or national partners, in order to generate scientific knowledge and products to address a range of developmental issues that are fundamental to the Sustainable Development Goals. These include poverty, food and nutrition, global security, disease, climate change and environmental degradation. 

The strategy uses livestock as its entry point into the One Health sphere, and addresses four thematic areas: 1) outbreaks, epidemics and pandemics, 2) endemic zoonoses, 3) foodborne disease, and 4) antimicrobial resistance. The strategic approach for each thematic area will use a risk-based systems approach to develop risk mitigation strategies and policies.

Partnerships are fundamental to address One Health challenges. ILRI will consolidate its existing and extensive network of partnerships, as well as forge new alliances where appropriate to support research and delivery of its products. 

ILRI’s current projects, such as Capacitating One Health in Eastern and Southern Africa (COHESA), are already working in 11 countries in Africa to strengthen One Health governance and education. ILRI’s One Health Center in Africa (OHRECA) works in eight countries in Africa and compliments the strategy, using research as the basis for recommendations of interventions and supporting public campaigns to control or eradicate zoonotic and foodborne disease, and to promote rational use of drugs. Some of the other One Health activities where ILRI is involved include Boosting Uganda's Investments in Livestock Development (BUILD) which engages with partners in policymaking to turn research evidence to use and One Health for Humans, Environmental, Animals and Livelihoods (HEAL) which engages pastoralists in defining sustainable, demand-driven and needs-based One Health Units.

Development of the One Health strategy has been led under the auspices of Dieter Schillinger, ILRI’s deputy director general of the bioscience directorate, who says, ‘Here at ILRI, scientists have been working on interdisciplinary research for many years. They have strong expertise in livestock health but more so at the interface between animal and environmental health sectors.’

He added, ‘We work with partners in the public health sectors and have robust interdisciplinary activities at the national and regional levels in the countries we work in, and it was essential to map all our One Health projects and activities.’

Schillinger believes that ILRI’s One Health strategy makes room for researchers and collaborators to bridge gaps between the Global North and Global South through strong partnerships, and paves the way for the institute to contribute towards preventing future pandemics. 


For more information on One Health activities at ILRI contact Ekta Patel 

Three interlinked pillars of ILRI's One Health strategy (infographics credit: ILRI/Georges Shouha)

Entry point into One Health through Livestock-wildlife interface (infographics credit: ILRI/Georges Shouha and Ekta Patel)

Strategic approach for each thematic area using risk-based systems approach (infographics credit: ILRI/Georges Shouha)