Since its establishment in 2016 the Ethiopian National One Health Steering Committee (NOHSC) and its Technical Working Groups, with the support of development partners such as UKHSA IHR Strengthening project, have worked to advance the multisectoral collaboration mechanism through a One Health (OH) Approach. Among the various efforts is the establishment of sub-national/regional OH platforms which support the establishment of 10 Regional OH Taskforces (ROHTFs), 7 zonal and about a hundred woreda (administrative regions of Ethiopia) platforms.

At the beginning of this fiscal year, the NOHSC in collaboration with OH partners planned to conduct supervision and backstopping activities in selected ROHTFs of the country. The supervision team for this mission was composed of four government delegates (Ministry of Agriculture, Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority, Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI), Environmental Protection Agency) and partners (World Health Organization, UKHSA, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs).

Work was conducted in June and July 2022 to assess the progress and major challenges of OH taskforces during OH operationalization in Amhara and Somali regions and to provide backstopping support based on the findings in order to reinstate their functionality.

The team first travelled to Bahri Dar, Amhara region and a multisectoral meeting was held at the Amhara Public Health Regional Office, with Amhara ROHTF participating members from the Livestock and Public Health offices. The Amhara ROHTF was established September 2019. Some recent key achievements highlighted have been:

  • The ROHTF has cascaded the OH platforms in five administrative Zones of the Region
  • At Central and North Gondar Zones, there is active OH approach engagement.
  • They have prepared terms of reference (TOR) and Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Rabies prevention and control.
  • The ROHTF have conducted a joint zoonotic diseases outbreak investigation and a multisectoral resource mobilization to conduct mass-dog vaccination against Rabies with support from the regional PHEM supplying different consumables.
  • The ROHTF has been carry out the Rabies prevention and control campaign and have been working hard to accomplish the Rabies elimination strategy despite the lack of pre-exposure vaccine for the professionals involved in this campaign.

The team also met with the Regional Livestock development office heads. They confirmed that there is good coordination and collaboration work with the regional public health office on OH related activities, especially on mass-dog vaccination against rabies, rabies diagnosis and data sharing activities. The office shared their readiness to work jointly with concerned bodies to prevent and control the recent poultry disease outbreak reported from the central parts of the country.

The team then visited the Bahir Dar Regional Animal Health Laboratory.An MoU was signed two years ago between the laboratory and the Amhara Public Health Institute (APHI) and the laboratory lab head reported that there is good coordination and collaboration work ongoing to fulfil its Rabies prevention and control and research activities. The laboratory staff are also working on mastitis diagnosis on dairy farms around Bair Dar and Gonder towns, and a local California Mastitits Test (CMT) reagent from local materials, in order to diagnose sub-clinical mastitis.  

For the second part of the Supervision and Backstopping mission, the team visited key partners as part of the Somali ROHTF. A multisectoral meeting was conducted at Somali Region Pastoralist Development Office, with ROHTF members from pastoralist development office, regional health bureau and environment bureau. The Somali regional one health taskforce was established in 2019, with the support of the NOHSC, and started the coordination, communication and information sharing activities among key sectors. Key achievements of the taskforce have been:

  • Establishment of a OH task force in two zones due to support from WHO. There are cross-border OH agreements with Somaliland.
  • There is coordination and resource mobilization activities between animal health and public health sectors.
  • ROHTF are carrying out joint surveillance and disease investigation activities at Shebelle, Fafan, Jerar and Siti zones of the region. Seven vetinary students have conducted sample collection from wildlife at the border.

The members emphasized the importance of strong collaboration, communication and coordination between the regional one health taskforce and the NOHSC.

The team also met with the Regional Environment & Wildlife Office head. The head of the office informed the team that he was aware of the ROHTF and emphasized about the importance of strengthening the multisectoral coordination and collaboration - work among the different sectors including the regional one health taskforce and the NOHSC.

Finally, the team met with Regional Health Bureau who spoke on the good communication between NOHSC and ROHTF and strongly suggesting that the frequency of National one health steering committee visits to the regional one health taskforce should be scheduled.

On the back of these visits, general recommendations and a forward plan were made by the supervision team:

  1. Organise a review meeting workshop to discuss the gaps, share experiences and conduct an evaluation of the ROHTF after this supervision mission.
  2. Assign one member from NOHSC to each ROHTF to follow-up and support, as well as reporting regularly to the NOHSC.
  3. The NOHSC should support the ROHTF to organize and cascade the OH approach to the woredas and establish different TWGS at zonal and woreda level.
  4. The NOHSC should support the regional animal and public health laboratories, which need technical, financial and logistic assistance by approaching development partners for that purpose

The IHR Strengthening team are proud to continue to support the NOHSC and its ROHTFs to implement a OH approach and improve multisectoral collaboration.

By Baye Ashenefe Wassie