AFRICA – The African Union (AU) Interagency Group on One Health has been inaugurated to coordinate, support, monitor and evaluate the implementation of the African Union One Health Strategy for Zoonotic Disease Prevention and Control across the Member States.

The Interagency comprises senior representatives and experts from various African Union organs such as Pan African Veterinary Vaccine Centre, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Education, Science, Technology and Innovation Department among other intergovernmental bodies.

The interagency will focus on the development of the African Union One Health Strategy for zoonotic diseases and the development of a consensual road map for the implementation of One Health Strategy for zoonotic diseases in Africa.

The interagency will also undertake an inventory of Zoonotic Disease Prevention and Control related activities as well as coordinate, monitor and evaluate implementation activities of the AU One Health Strategy Zoonotic Diseases.

The direct cost of zoonotic diseases over the last decade has been estimated to be more than US$20 billion, with over $200 billion in direct losses to affected economies. For example, there is over US$3.6 trillion loss from COVID-19, US$53 billion loss from the 2014-16 Ebola outbreak, US$20 billion for Zika and US$8.6 billion for canine rabies, among others.

In addition, the body will compile an inventory of Zoonotic Disease Prevention and Control associated activities being undertaken by the different African Union institutions and document the roles of the institutions in the control and prevention of Zoonotic diseases.

The African Union Interagency Group on One Health will specifically be tasked with coordinating, implementing, monitoring and evaluation of the AU One Health Strategy Zoonotic Diseases activities in an effort to prevent zoonotic pandemics.

One Health involves the collaboration between human, animal, and environmental health sectors and other relevant stakeholders in designing and implementing programmes, policies, legislation, and research intended to achieve better health outcomes for all.

According to the African Union, a One Health approach is critical for the accelerated implementation of the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005) to safeguard the socioeconomic and political integration of the African continent and to achieve the aspirations of AU Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.

One Health is a collaborative, multisectoral and transdisciplinary approach to attaining optimal health outcomes for people, animals, plants and their shared environment. In addition, Zoonotic diseases decrease food availability creating local and international trade barriers.

The One Health Coordination Group on Zoonotic Diseases was established during a meeting on One Health that took place from 13th – 14th June 2022 at the African Union InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Interagency comprises several African Union offices that have been mandated to deal with various aspects of human/animal health interventions including The Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), AU-IBAR and The Scientific, Technical and Research Commission (STRC) to name a few.

Other AU offices include The Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Blue Economy (DARBE), The Department of Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development (HHS), the InterAfrican Phytosanitary Council (AU-IAPSC) and the Citizens and Diaspora Organizations (CIDO).

The African Union revealed that the Task Force on zoonotic disease shall function through meetings that will be convened twice a year, either in person or virtually while noting that the Task Force Secretariat will be jointly hosted by Africa CDC and AU-IBAR.

The continental union consisting of 55 member states located on the continent of Africa further disclosed that the Joint secretariat AU-IBAR Africa CDC will provide support in terms of logistics and information resources to assist with operations of meetings, groups and individuals as required.

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