The African continent has a significant burden of zoonotic diseases, with both competent vectors and environmental conditions that support the propagation of zoonotic diseases with pandemic potential. Zoonotic influenza viruses and viral hemorrhagic fevers (VHFs) such as Ebola, Marburg, Lassa fever and Rift Valley fever (RVF) viruses are examples of these diseases. Severe illness and fatalities in humans and animals continue to result from these outbreaks, impacting livelihoods and national health systems and causing economic losses.
Zoonotic diseases account for approximately 60% of existing and 75% of newly emerging infectious diseases in humans, including notable outbreaks like SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), significantly affecting health security and the African economy. Recent zoonotic disease outbreaks in the Southern African region include Anthrax, Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF), H5N1 Bird Flu, and COVID-19.
To strengthen response efforts against zoonotic diseases, Africa CDC, in partnership with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and GIZ organized a One Health Zoonotic Disease Prioritization (OHZDP) Southern Africa Regional Facilitator Training. This training brought together over 80 participants from the human, animal, and environmental sectors from 11 Member States and partner organizations from 17 to 21 July in Livingstone, Zambia.
The OHZDP process enables a country or region to bring together representatives from human, animal, and environmental health sectors, and other relevant partners to prioritize zoonotic diseases of greatest concern and develop next steps and action plans to address the priority zoonotic diseases using a One Health approach. This multisectoral and multidisciplinary approach mobilizes and integrates sectors, disciplines, and communities to prevent, detect, control, and respond to zoonotic diseases.
The importance of safeguarding Africa from zoonotic diseases was emphasized by Dr. Yewande Alimi, the Lead of the One Health Unit, who highlighted the need for investment in research, surveillance, and prevention measures to protect both human and animal populations.
Through the Regional Coordinating Centres, Africa CDC is actively supporting the strengthening of One Health coordination across the continent by supporting Member States in implementing a Framework for One Health Practice in National Public Health Institutes with zoonotic disease prevention and control. Dr. Raymond Hamoonga, the Zambia One Health Focal Point, encouraged Southern Africa member states to leverage the Africa CDC Regional Coordinating Center initiative, such as the one hosted in Lusaka Zambia, to use it as a resource for strengthening public health security. This support by Africa CDC is evident in Zambia’s development of its national one health strategic plan, the hosting of the IHR-PVS National Bridging workshop, and the One Health zoonotic disease prioritization workshop.
Similarly, The African Union has established an Interagency Coordination Group on Zoonotic Diseases to address different dimensions of zoonotic disease outbreaks. The One Health Coordinating Group on Zoonotic Diseases” through the African Union’s technical agencies, aims to strengthen coordinated surveillance, prevention and control of zoonotic diseases on the continent.
Grace Goryoka, CDC’s One Health Office, noted that strengthening One Health capacity through the OHZDP Process and associated One Health tools helps build operational and sustainable One Health systems that will effectively address zoonotic disease threats.
Partners attending the OHZDP regional facilitator training included the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH), African Union InterAfrica Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut (Federal Research Institute for Animal Health), Africa Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET) and Global Programme Pandemic Prevention and Response, One Health” implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Overall, efforts are being made to prioritize and address zoonotic diseases in Africa through collaboration, training, and implementing One Health approaches, aiming to protect the health and well-being of both humans and animals on the continent.
For more information:
Dr Yewande Alimi | One Health Unit Lead | Africa Centres for Disease control and Prevention| | African Union| email: email@example.com| | | email: firstname.lastname@example.org| Website: www.africacdc.org | Addis Ababa| Ethiopia| Facebook | Twitter
For media inquiry:
Dorothy Wambeti Njagi | Senior Communication Officer- Policy, Health Diplomacy &Communication | Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention| African Union |email: email: email@example.com |Website: www.africacdc.org|Addis Ababa|Ethiopia| Facebook | Twitter
Ms. Liolisia Kariko | Risk Communication and Community Engagement(RCCE)| Africa Centres for Disease control and Prevention| Southern Regional Collaborating Centre| African Union| email: KarikoL@africa-union.org | M: +260 96 57 55 944 | email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Website: www.africacdc.org | Addis Ababa| Ethiopia| Facebook | Twitter