One Health was launched in Ethiopia on 16 March 2013 at Harmony Hotel in the presence of Dr. Fikre Lemessa, Jimma University President, Dr. Kabagambe Geoffrey, OHCEA Secretariat manager and various delegates from local and international organizations. Opening speech was made by Dr. Fikre Lemessa in which he thoroughly addressed the essence of working together rather than disciplinary approach, One Health approach as an appropriate and timely way to address health related issues and then declared that OH Ethiopia launching event is officially opened.
Keynote address was delivered through delegates of MoH and MoA and both expressed the need for OH approach in the control and understanding of emerging diseases. Both sector ministries mentioned lessons learnt from previous way of solving public health problems like avian influenza and then called up on One Health stakeholders to use such multidisciplinary approach in future activities.
In their key note address they clearly put that the issue of collaboration was not new for the Ethiopian system since the two ministries in particular and other relevant disciplines were working together to address different health problems such as the case of Unknown liver disease in Western part of Tigray region and the avian influenza. They also said that, the need for working together is timely approach not only to solve communicable diseases but also the non communicable diseases which affects both livestock and human beings. On behalf of their ministries they acknowledge OHCEA Ethiopia to take the leading role in organizing such multidisciplinary team to solve the different disease situation in the country. Finally, they assured that on behalf of their ministries they are willing to work with the existing net work that we have in the country
One Health global and regional perspective was presented to the participants to create more understanding in the need for One Health. In addition, Prof. Kifle presented the situation of OH in Ethiopia from its inception to launch in order to touch base on activities done so far through the help of USAID-RESPOND project.
In the afternoon session discussion was made on the way forward and the chairperson, Prof. Abraham, started by summarizing the presentations in the morning session and additional points were given by the co-chairs namely Dr. Berihu Gebrekidan, Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, Mekelle University, Dr. Alemayehu Mekonnen from Ministry of agriculture and Mr. Hintsa Hadush from Ministry of Health. The experience of Gonder University postgraduate program in collaboration with Ohio State University was mentioned as an exemplary effort that brought human and animal health professionals in One Health model. Furthermore, all representatives from governmental and non-governmental organizations appreciated OHCEA Ethiopia activities so far and emphasized the need to consider the following points.
- Focusing on advocacy of OH approach through creating more awareness forums to bring attitude change and get buy-in of policy makers.
- Working on way of registering OHCEA in Ethiopia and formulating short and long term goals at national level.
- Strengthening national committee and revising the existing membership to include all relevant OH stakeholders.
- Soliciting funds or grants to make the present project sustainable after the current funding period expires.
- Preparation of national strategic plan based on organized and well designed assessment tool to know the gaps in various institutions/organizations.
- Documenting and sharing the lessons learnt from previous ways of fighting pandemic threats in the form of success stories.
- Working on gender issue to address zoonotic diseases.
Following this, the official launch of One Health Ethiopia was declared by Dr. Fikre Lemessa, Jimma University President, delegates of MoA, MoH, MoE and Mekelle University in unison.
Finally, Prof Abraham acknowledged USAID-RESPOND, OHCEA Secretariat, the two US Universities, Focal Persons, Deans and CCC members for their hard work in the realization of the launching event and then officially closed the session.