One Health Bangladesh provides a forum for discussing the idea of One Health and its relevance for Bangladesh. Over the last five years, a diverse group of professionals from across Bangladesh have participated in six conferences (three in Chittagong and three in Dhaka), that discussed scientific and policy issues, related to One Health. Several presentations at these conferences have explored zoonotic diseases that are moved from animal to human. In Bangladesh, recent outbreaks of avian influenza, Nipah virus, and anthrax have highlighted the linkage between animal health and human health and provided useful specific local examples to discuss better ways for diverse professionals and groups to work together. Bangladesh hosted a regional one health forum which convened representatives from human health and animal health from several neighboring countries to discuss sound approaches to shared concerns. In addition, One Health Bangladesh has been regularly organizing seminars, and consultations and sharing experiences on cross-cutting issues. Through these activities a general consensus developed that One Health Approach would particularly be relevant to Bangladesh. Bangladesh has the highest population density of any country in the world that is not a small city state. Even with this highest density of population, the great majority of food consumed in Bangladesh is grown within the country, grown often treated inappropriately with pesticides and increasingly contaminated with industrial wastes. Shallow tube wells are most common source of drinking water in Bangladesh but half of all tube wells have levels of arsenic that exceed the WHO standard for safe drinking water and 40% of drinking water samples collected from tube wells are contaminated with bacteria. Above all, the Bangladeshi population has exceptionally close contact with domestic animals. Sixty-one percent of rural households raise poultry and over half of those keep poultry inside their home. These issues have discussed in a one health context and communicated to a wider audience.
One Health Alliance of South Asia (OHASA)
There is an increasing number of emerging infectious diseases, the majority of which originate from wildlife. These zoonoses often impact wild and domestic animals and human populations, and as a result require a holistic approach to their study and control. The ‘One Health’ perspective recognizes that the health of humans, animals, and ecosystems are inextricably linked and therefore requires experts from different health-related fields to work together to predict, prevent, and control zoonotic diseases. There is an urgent need for a scalable, cohesive network of scientists and policy makers in South Asia working to develop trans-boundary and multidisciplinary approaches to preventing and controlling zoonotic disease outbreaks in the region. There are many examples of zoonoses that impact human and animal health in the region, such as avian influenza, rabies, and Nipah virus – an emerging bat-borne virus. Nipah virus has been the cause of repeated localized outbreaks of encephalitis in India and Bangladesh, with case fatality rates averaging 75 percent and as high as 100 percent. The prevention of outbreaks of Nipah and other viruses that have the potential to spark pandemics requires a ‘One Health’ approach with cooperation among regional ministries of Health, Agriculture, and Environment, as well as regional NGOs and scientists to implement effective interventions while managing and protecting ecologically important wildlife species. While there are individuals and organizations within countries in the region that use a ‘One Health’ approach, a region-wide mechanism for promoting cooperation between local and governmental agencies, as well as experts from different health fields, is essential for monitoring and controlling infectious diseases that spread rapidly across borders.
What is the One Health Alliance of South Asia (OHASA)?
OHASA is the premiere regional network of scientists and policy-makers representing inter-governmental, governmental, and non-governmental agencies in South Asia that support and advance the â€˜One Healthâ€™ perspective. The inaugural meeting of the One Health Alliance of South Asia occurred in November 2009 at Chalsa, West Bengal, India with support from the Rockefeller Foundation. At this meeting, government representatives, leaders from the human and animal health sectors and scientists from Bangladesh, India, and EcoHealth Alliance, gathered to discuss the goals and challenges of trans-boundary collaboration in science, surveillance, and policy with respect to zoonotic diseases. Present at the first inaugural meeting of OHASA were the Honorable Minister for Environment and Forests from the Government of India (Shri. Jairam Ramesh), the Secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock from the Government of Bangladesh (Mr. Md. Sharful Islam), as well as leaders from academia, conservation and health NGOs, and the health sector and wildlife departments from both countries. The outcome of this meeting was a document called “The Bengal Declaration,” a call to action for ministerial agencies and governments of India and Bangladesh, the international donor community, national and international NGOs, and human, animal and ecosystem health sciences.
Since then, OHASA has developed into a strong trans-national network composed of scientists and policy makers from wildlife, livestock, and human health sectors representing four countries: Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan. EcoHealth Alliance and OHASA continue to reach out to other organizations, including government agencies, to increase inter-governmental and inter-organizational collaboration around the ‘One Health’ initiative.
What does OHASA do?
OHASAâ€™s mission is to facilitate communication and cooperation among scientific and government agencies in member countries through meetings, workshops, research, and information exchange.
The major aims of OHASA include:
Providing scientific expertise and use the best available research to shape policy;
Facilitating collaborative research and information sharing on common health challenges identified by members and shared by member countries;
Building new and expanded links with other networks and individuals that can work synergistically to advance One Health science and policy across South Asia.
OHASA currently has more than 70 individual members across four countries and includes one chartered national organization in Nepal (the One Health Alliance of Nepal – OHAN). The OHASA Steering Committee welcomes engagement from other partner countries in the region, including Bhutan, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka. OHASA is governed by a steering committee (OHASA-SC) composed of representatives from each member country and a senior delegate from EcoHealth Alliance.
The OHASA Steering Committee focuses on issues related to emerging and endemic zoonotic diseases. These reflect the groupsâ€™ technical expertise, and include science and policy initiatives aimed at the study, prevention and control of high priority viral pathogens of public health significance and of national and trans-national interest (e.g. rabies, avian influenza, Nipah virus, etc.). Major planned activities through 2016, as decided at the OHASA member meeting in Delhi, India, July 2012, will include:
Performing a gap/needs analysis in partner countries and developing a regional strategic plan based on results from gap analysis and surveys;
Conducting direct outreach to ministry contacts to build support for OHASA priorities and initiatives;
Identifying educational needs at the ministry and graduate training levels across the region; and
Promoting One Health in South Asia through capacity building via training workshops, seminars and scientific symposia in member countries
The South Asia Veterinary Education Network (SAVE-Network)
We, delegates of the â€œWorkshop on Veterinary Education in South Asia: New Approaches to Teaching and Learning for Evolving Scenarioâ€, including Deans and teachers of the Veterinary Schools from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Srilanka together with Royal Veterinary College, London, University of Liverpool, UK and University of Copenhagen, Denmark, agree on the creation of the South Asia Veterinary Education Network (SAVE-Network) to enhance the quality of the student learning experience on veterinary courses across the South Asia region. Its aim will be, through its activities, to develop in South Asia veterinary students who possess on graduation the necessary knowledge and capability:
- To meet the current requirements and expectations of a range of relevant stakeholders in the fields of veterinary and animal science practice and research
- To respond effectively to the demands of the future.
In carrying out their work, all institutions associated with the SAVE-Network will be regarded as equal partners; with developments promoted through active sharing of issues, ideas and practices. The SAVE-Network will specifically target the building up of dynamic relationships that:
- Enable members to learn from each other as well as the development of a shared repertoire of curriculum resources
- Promote shared thinking and doing based on the exchange of visions, experiences, documentation, research and technical cooperation on veterinary education at regional level
- Contribute to attain an effective community of practice focus on fostering veterinary educational capacity building.
Delegates concur with the proposal that any institution and individual that is involved with veterinary education in South Asia can become a member of the SAVE-Network and in its initial organizational framework the SAVE-Network will have following elements:
- It will consist of a regional coordinating team made up of the Deans of the member institutes and one Coordinator
- The coordinating team will be responsible for the management of the Network and will follow up the activities agreed upon among the members. Professor Nitish C Debnath of Chittagong Veterinary and Animal Sciences University will act as the first coordinator of the SAVE-Network.
- Professor Brian Aldridge from RVC and Mr. Ian Taylor from the University of Liverpool will remain associated with SAVE â€“Network as Honorary Members.
The above declaration also calls upon the Governments and University Grants Commissions of South Asian Countries, the international donor community, national and international non-governmental organizations to recognize and support the SAVE-Network initiative unanimously approved by the delegates participating in the â€œWorkshop on Veterinary Education in South Asia: New Approaches to Teaching and Learning for Evolving Scenarioâ€ held at Hotel Agrabad, Chittagong, Bangladesh, 21- 22 September 2010.