One Health is the Approach for Uganda's Prevailing Health Challenges-Prime Minister, Ruhakana Rugunda

Sunday, 1 May 2016 - 3:32pm

The World Veterinary Day week-long celebrations came to a climax  today, Saturday 30th April 2016 at Makerere University Main Hall. The  The World Veterinary Day is celebrated every year on the last Saturday of April. This year's theme is 'Continuing Education with a One Health Focus'. Makerere University was chosen by The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) and the Uganda Veterinary Association (UVA). 

Presiding over the day's celebrations today, Prime Minister, Right Honourable Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, who represented the President, noted that the One Health approach is the right way to go in order to solve Uganda's current health challenges.  

In a speech read for him by the Prime Minister, President Yoweri Museveni said that the theme of the day is very timely, due to the fact that zoonotic diseases are becoming a greater threat to human health, a phenomenon that is gaining further global attention. "Human,animal and environmental health are intricately interlinked. The animal sector is susceptible to drought conditions, so educate people to stop destroying water catchment areas", he further noted.

President Museveni remarked that the World Veterinary Day is a good interface through which farmers get more awareness and exposure to the different animal production technologies.

The Minister of Education, Hon Jessica Alupo proudly noted that there are lots of innovations coming out of Makerere University; One Health being one of them. She said through the One Health approach, the challenges of insufficient cohesion, are addressed. She therefore called for institutionalisation of the approach across the University. 

The Minister of State for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Hon. Bright Rwamirama noted that the day is intended to illuminate the work of veterinarians worldwide, including in areas like food safety, quarantine and animal transportation practices. He noted that scientific and technological advances have led to increased food production while at the same time, raising public health concerns. 

"There is more use of antibiotics as growth promoters than in clinical practice. There is also need to study the connection between diet and animal food production", he said. 

He thanked the Ministry of Health for spearheading the formation of the of the One Health Country Taskforce which has enabled government manage several outbreaks.   

The Vice Chancellor, Makerere University, Professor John Ddumba-Ssentamu congratulated the School of Public Health and the College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Bio-security, for championing One Health in Central and Eastern Africa, and has now expanded to West Africa. He said implementation of the approach presents the need to continue training for skills to remain relevant, adding that Makerere University is committed to supporting the CoVAB in doing this.

Professor John David Kabasa, the Principal, CoVAB noted that the endorsement to host this year's celebrations enables the College to play a greater role in national development agenda. 

The Principal Investigator, One Health Central and Eastern Africa, Professor William Bazeyo shared the history of OHCEA with the guests. He said since its formation in 2010, OHCEA has supported a network of Universities in the region which has demystified training in health as an integrated approach. "We agreed to cause change by demystifying training by training different professionals together so that when they go out they have knowledge beyond their primary fields. We are the first country to have curricula with a One Health module in Africa", he added. 

As a result of  these efforts, some countries in the region like Rwanda have committed resources to One Health.

The President, Uganda Veterinary Association, Dr. Dominic Mundigo Lali, appealed to government to consider establishment of a National One Health Commission, strengthen the role of veterinarians in the operations of the Food and Drugs Authority as well as establishing a regulatory entity for veterinary medicine practitioners.

The event also involved a tour of the exhibition area where over twenty entities displayed innovative and novel approaches in their respective fields of practice.