28 October 2012 – Early on a Sunday morning, teaching faculty and deans representing departments of Zoology, Epidemiology, statistics, Health Services Management, behavioral science, environmental health, veterinary medicine, pathology, nursing, community based education, environmental science and technology, population and family health, Physiology, Microbiology, animal science, agriculture and medical science came together to implement One Health at Jimma University in South Western Ethiopia.
While the meeting held three main objectives; (1) to update on OHCEA activities to date, (2) to lay out plans for incorporation of One Health concepts into different curriculums at the university and (3) receive a training on One Health Advocacy – the most important output was bringing together faculty from different disciplinary specialties to be part of an inclusive process of implementing the One Health approach. Bringing together different stakeholders (in this case university faculty) from different but interconnected and interdependent subject areas to be part of the inclusive process of implementing One Health is one of the greatest opportunities and achievements of the One Health Central and Eastern Africa university network. Active discussions followed each of the presentations while faculty members developed an understanding of working across traditional barriers, and shifting challenges to opportunities to realize a One Health reality.
A progress report from OHCEA focal person, Dr. Kifle Woldemichael, updated faculty members on the USAID sub-award now in place between OHCEA and DAI and some of the many opportunities and challenges reached to date. A country work plan for Ethiopia aligned with the key areas of the OHCEA regional work plan (especially curriculum development, faculty development, faculty and student exchanges, collaboration and partnership opportunities) is the important next step faculty members are asked to work together on.
OHCEA focal person, Dr. Moti Gemechu, followed with a presentation on opportunities for incorporating One Health into the different curriculums at Jimma. He Highlighted faculty exchange opportunities, like the one he and Dr. Kifle were able to attend in Minnesota in June 2012. Other opportunities include cross disciplinary teaching, cross disciplinary field experiences (especially in regards to community based training programs already utilized at Jimma), inter-disciplinary research projects and curriculum review and strengthening. Moti stressed the importance of moving from informal research and teaching collaborations into a more formalized process. Reactions and questions from faculty members highlighted a desire to establish a One Health student club, concerns that before post-graduate programs are proposed or implemented that a needs assessment is conducted to ensure graduates are taken up into appropriate jobs, benchmarking and standardization across human and animal laboratories and the importance of high level buy-in from government officials to implement One Health programs and activities.
The final presentation of the workshop was given by University of Minnesota Technical Liaison, Dr. Mac Farnham. Mac led an interactive discussion on One Health Advocacy, highlighting One Health Leadership Competencies developed at a Bellagio meeting in 2010 and some of the challenges and opportunities of implementing One Health. The ‘Minnesota Model’ of One Health implementation, supported by strong connections and partnerships between the university, state departments of health, agriculture and natural resources, as well as private sector was an area of keen interest of faculty interested to know how a similar model might be adapted in Ethiopia. Faculty were especially interested in specifics of training opportunities available with OHCEA US university partners and how they can participate
Finally, the importance of making One Health an inclusive process and ongoing discussion cannot be understated. In realizing a One Health reality, that inclusive process is the real product and is a shared responsibility across disciplines and sectors. This workshop demonstrated that product is well on its way to fruition.