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  • Writer's pictureSarah Beeching

One Health and Neglected Tropical Diseases: From policy to implementation

The Covid-19 pandemic tested health systems to the limit. All countries struggled to support patients and maintain routine services. The pandemic also shone a spotlight on the interlinkages between human, animal and environmental health. A ‘One Health’ approach seeks to understand these linkages and the potential impact on health as climate change, biodiversity loss, migration and intensive agriculture increase risks of new or re-emergent diseases affecting populations.

“It’s clear that a One Health approach must be central to our shared work to strengthen the world’s defences against epidemics and pandemics such as COVID-19. That’s why One Health is one of the guiding principles of the new international agreement for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, which our Member States are now negotiating.”

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General

Oshun Partnership has supported the development of two recent WHO publications that set out the case for investing in a One Health approach and in Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) as imperatives for achieving the SDGs and indicators of the health of our nations. Read the report: One Health Joint Plan of Action launched to address health threats to humans, animals, plants and environment

This joint publication brought together experts from across WHO, FAO, World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH, formerly OIE) and UN Environment Programme. The aim was to develop a framework to integrate systems and capacity so that we can better prevent, predict, detect, and respond to health threats. Ultimately, this initiative seeks to improve the health of humans, animals, plants, and the environment, while contributing to sustainable development.

We particularly focused our support on Action Track 3: Controlling and eliminating endemic zoonotic NTDs and vector-borne diseases. This links with our broader portfolio of work on Healthy Cities, Healthy People, urban malaria and vector (mosquito) control. The theme of this action track centres on communities who bear the greatest burden of these diseases and are almost always without political influence and resources.

Building on existing structures and agreements, mechanisms for coordinated financing are under development to support the plan’s implementation. The Quadripartite will join forces to leverage the needed resources in support of the common approach to address critical health threats and promote the health of people, animals, plants and the environment. Read the report: Ending the neglect to attain the sustainable development goals: a rationale for continued investment in tackling neglected tropical diseases 2021–2030

‘Neglected Tropical Diseases are Diseases that affect neglected peoples, those most vulnerable, without voice and resources. Tackling NTDs is a health equity and a health justice issue. It is a moral imperative.’

Sarah Beeching, Executive Director, Oshun Partnership

This WHO publication hones into the detail around why there is a case for investing in the prevention, control and elimination in some cases of NTDs. It builds on a series of WHO publications linked to the NTD Road Map (see here).

The new NTD investment rationale highlights the need to continuously support cost-efficient interventions both to consolidate the hard-won gains of recent years and to accelerate progress in the coming years. It is also a challenge to the NTD community to think about new financing approaches that could more effectively support actions that cut across various health and non-health sectors.

The paper sets out the investment priorities in the areas emphasised by the road map. These include the need for greater attention to key programme dimensions such as diagnostics and monitoring and evaluation, more catalytic support to mainstreaming NTD programmes with national health systems, more in-depth collaboration with individual countries, and more meaningful collaboration beyond the health sector.

The rationale for investing in a One Health approach and in NTDs is clear. It is a task that requires the attention and commitment of all those working in the field and all those whose lives may be touched by the burden of these diseases and constitutes an important call to collective and concentrated action.


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