Tanzanian and World Health Organization (WHO) health and wildlife experts on Monday began discussing ways aimed at controlling diseases that spread from animals to humans, also known as zoonotic diseases.
The experts, meeting in the east African nation's commercial capital Dar es Salaam, will for three days discuss how to bridge gaps in communication, intervention and implementation of strategies aimed at controlling diseases like rift valley fever, brucellosis, rabies, plague and anthrax.
About 60 percent of the diseases that affect humans have their origin in animals and are a threat to human life, trade and development, says WHO, adding that control of these diseases requires the intervention of experts.
The meeting entitled: International Health Regulations-Performance of Veterinary Services Pathway Bridging Workshop, has also attracted experts on livestock and agriculture.The discussions will focus on the One-Health concept, a collaborative effort of multiple disciplines working locally, nationally and globally, to attain optimal health for people, animals and the environment.
Janeth Mghamba, Director for Preventive Medicine in the Ministry of Health, told the experts that joint efforts by stakeholders had come at a time Tanzania was working on a strategy to boost health security.
The government is now working on how to implement the National Action Plan for Health Security launched in Dodoma recently, she said, adding: "during this meeting, we will discuss at length how to utilize this plan to improve health in the country."
Mghamba said Tanzania led in the implementation of the International Health Regulations, 2005 as the country strived to tackle infectious diseases, such as Ebola, which were a threat to national and global health security.
Ritha Njau, Officer-in-Charge of the WHO Office in Dar es Salaam, said the concept of One-Health was not new, but it was central to saving Tanzania and other countries from animal to human diseases "it is now time to explore how to bring these together to identify commonalities, gaps and define opportunities for improved coordination under the One Health to realize greater and far-reaching outputs," Njau said.