OHCEA sets out to articulate the One Health Research agenda and a resource mobilization plan for research funding

Tuesday, 26 April 2016 - 1:18pm
OHCEA Network Country: 
In groups, participants developing hypothetical concepts

Between April 11th and 15th a multi-disciplinary team of nineteen faculty from OHCEA member institutions and Secretariat staff set out to develop the networks’ draft research agenda and a resource mobilization plan to guide resource mobilization for research projects at a meeting that was held at the Intercontinental Hotel, Nairobi Kenya.  The team comprised specialists in public health, veterinary health, gender and health systems strengthening.

The draft research agenda was grounded on OHCEAs’ niche as the only network of Universities in the region under the leadership of Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH) and College of Veterinary Medicine Animal Resources and Biosecurity (COVAB) that works to secure the health of humans, animals and eco-systems through strengthened high education using multi-disciplinary teaching and learning practices and environment in Africa- a hotspot of emerging and re-emerging diseases.

Participants reflected on diseases of significant public health and economic importance locally, regionally and globally and identified about forty diseases and conditions that were categorized into seven themes recommended to be the focus for One Health research for the coming 5 years.  In shaping these themes institutional and country research priorities highlighted by participants and global health concerns as informed by the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) were key references in shaping the research themes.  The seven themes include (not in any order):

  1. Bats Transmitted Diseases including EBOLA; Marburg; MERS; SARS; Nipah Virus
  2. Hemorrhagic fevers including Rift Valley Fever; Dengue; Zika; CCHF; Lassa fever; Chikungunya; Hanta Virus; Yellow Fever.
  3. Neglected diseases (with emphasis on NTDs)- Schistosomiasis and Soil Transmitted Helminths; Leishmaniosis; Toxoplasmosis; Leprosy; Onchocerciasis; Trachoma; Cryptosporidium; Leishmaniosis; Lymphatic Filariasis; Toxoplasmosis; African Sleeping Sickness.
  4. Anti-Microbial Resistance taken broadly to include anti-biotics; multi drug resistance including that associated with HIV; Microbial resistance.​
  5. Bio-Security and Bio-Safety (Bio-Risk Management.
  6. Ecosystem Health - Non Communicable Diseases/Conditions (including its linkages to food security and food safety) - Mycotoxicosis; Aflatoxins; Malnutrition; Diabetes; Heart Diseases; Hygiene issues; Pollution.
  7. Endemic Diseases- Anthrax; Brucellosis; Rabies; Q. fever.

With consensus on the above themes, participants considered the most feasible resource mobilization strategy to sustain and grow resources needed to support One Health research.  Drawing on the rich experience of the facilitators, a number of options were elaborated including: (1) Formation of teams around the research themes and utilizing the capacities of faculty within OHCEA member institutions with interest and passion in the themes to write winning research grants.  (2) A high level resource mobilization team at the Board level, complemented by people of given stature & specialists to hold targeted discussions with donors/agencies and (3) Secretariat coordinated efforts.

"Focusing on one of the diseases under each theme, six hypothetical concepts were developed on Ebola, Brucellosis, Ecosystem health focusing on pollution, Antimicrobial  resistance, biosecurity, and Soil transmitted helminths.  These concepts will be fully developed upon securing relevant RFAs".

The meeting was facilitated by three experienced researchers with vast research grants mobilization experience.   (1) Dr. Innocent Rwego Assistant Professor at the Ecosystem Health Division, College of Veterinary Medicine and Adjunct Instructor, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, USA and Africa Technical Lead USAID One Health Workforce project under EPT II, Eco-health chair IDRC Eco-health research project; (2) Dr. Robison H. Mdegela, a senior Lecturer at Sokoine University of Agriculture, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine Department of Veterinary Medicine and Public Health.  Robinson is an OHCEA Focal Person at SUA and an active researcher in areas related to Ecotoxicology, wildlife conservation and management, public and environmental health who has won several research grants.  (3) Dr. Saul Tzipori from Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University USA, Department of Infectious Disease and Global Health, a veterinarian who is also involved in diseases of human significant.  Saul had over 40 years’ experience working on research projects with funding from diverse sources.