Scholar calls for harmonized response to emerging diseases in Africa

Source: Xinhua| 2019-02-14 23:43:11|Editor: yan
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NAIROBI, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- African countries should adopt a harmonized approach to boost the fight against diseases affecting humans and animals, a Kenyan scholar said on Thursday.

Kariuki Njenga, a professor at Washington State University, told at a health conference in Nairobi that the traditional surveillance and response strategies to contain disease outbreaks should be well coordinated.

"There is need for one health approach since the separate approach has resulted in inadequate prevention and control of the diseases," said Njenga while delivering a key note address at the ongoing Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) 9th annual scientific and health conference in Nairobi.

He noted that one health approach that incorporates integrated human, animal and environmental management of emerging and zoonotic disease is gaining momentum globally.

Njenga said that the approach is a strategy to predict and prevent emerging infectious diseases that cause losses of human beings as well as exerting pressure on the government's budgets.

"The pastoralism and consumption of bush meat continue to risk people's lives hence the need to conduct one health intervention," said Njenga.

He said that sub-Saharan African countries are burdened by emerging diseases such as Ebola, Marburg and Rift Valley fever (RVF) due to the degradation of environment and encroachment by people to the national parks.

"With 65 percent of arid and semi-arid lands (ASAL) in most countries being dominated by pastoralists, there is likelihood that when animals are sick, human too become sick," said Njenga.

He urged African countries to adhere to the World Health Organization guideline by setting up a coordination mechanism between health and animal health sectors, and a mechanism for surveillance of zoonotic diseases.