One Health Asia Programme (OHAP) – Fighting zoonoses in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Nepal

The threat of zoonoses, which are naturally transmitted between vertebrate animals and humans, is particularly serious in the least developed countries, where people often cohabitate with their animals and do not have access to information or equitable resources for combating health concerns. In Nepal there are reported case of the animal origin infectious diseases such as avian influenza, foot and mouth disease (FMD), PPR and bluetongue that causes annual losses of about US$ 230 million. Nepal has recorded eleven outbreaks of HPAI from 2009 to till 2012 and the country is at high risk, with the disease outbreaks recorded in China to the north & in India to the south. Nepal is also on two routes for migratory birds that are known to be carriers of the disease. There are joint initiatives of the Ministry of Health & Population, and the Ministry of Agriculture Development trying to minimize zoonoses, and it has been realized that further emphasis on improving filed level reporting and community participation is necessary. Similarly in other two South Asian countries – Afghanistan and Bangladesh, the zoonotic diseases such as Bird Flu, rabies, TB, anthrax, brucellosis, tetanus, amoebiasis, cysticercosis & fascialiosis are common zoonotic disease are prevalent, with significant number of reported cases of mortality and morbidity due to these diseases.

In this background, ANSAB in partnership with Relief International has been implementing European Union’s One Health Asia Programme – OHAP (Fighting zoonoses in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Nepal (ABN)- Increasing awareness, prevention, & control of zoonoses). The project is premised on the One Health approach that has objectives to improve health and wellbeing through the mitigation of risks and crises that originate at the interface between humans, animals, and their various environments. OHAP focuses on the a multi-sectoral and collaborative “whole of society” approach to managing health hazards, as a systemic change of perspective in the management of risk. Current initiative – increasing awareness, prevention, and control of zoonoses has specific objective to strengthen capabilities in the three least developed countries in Asia to address and prepare for risks related to infectious diseases through the promotion of collaborations & networking.

In Nepal, the project is implemented in three districts namely Chitwan, Rupandehi and Banke districts. The project component includes:

Creating Awareness and Behaviour Change. Collection and compilation of baseline data on livestock health and husbandry practices, human health practices during the first phase; organization of orientation workshops and mass media awareness programmes through printed and electronic media.

Prevention and Response Capacity Development of communities, government departments and academia. Organization of a series of capacity building actions focussing on adequate animal healthcare services to prevent diseases and detect early warning signs. Community Health Workers will be trained on disease identification, reporting and local surveillance, and equipped with basic Healthcare Kits.

Integration of Zoonoses Surveillance within Existing Government Regulations. Improve diseases reporting systems, early warning systems, and epidemiological response in the country in cooperation with government entities; establishment of a network for information exchange on zoonoses; and coordination with the Agriculture and Forestry University (AFU) to develop zoonoses information resource centres and conduct research on zoonoses related issues.