The presence of drug-resistant microbes is a major challenge in our community and the world right now and can be eliminated by working together in a co-operative collaboration of various professionals with a range of expertise who are active in different sectors, such as public health, animal health, plant health, and the environment … also known as One Health approaches.
This was pointed out by Prof. Robinson Mdegela from Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) while presenting a paper on the problem of drug-resistant microbes at the 37th Annual meeting and scientific conference of the Tanzania Public Health Association (TPHA) in Arusha.
"This problem has been researched a lot and a lot of publications have been published talking about the problem in almost every publication but the time has come now to stop complaining about the problem but to find a solution to the problem we as experts together" stressed Prof. Mdegela
He said that in order to reduce and eliminate this problem, education must be provided to the community so that they are aware of the problem and avoid the use of drugs without following the advice of health professionals
Prof. Mdegela added that patriotism is needed for human and livestock drug dealers but also for pastoralists themselves to adhere to the rules of medicine and vaccination for their livestock before selling the products of these animals in the market.
“Lack of livestock compensation for a pastoralist who has given his animal a certain medicine that requires them not to slaughter or sell milk or eggs within a certain period of time after vaccination or medicine causes many pastoralists to fail to stop selling for example eggs, meat and milk during that period and thus selling to people products that are mixed with medicines for fear of loss and therefore it contributes to this problem of microbes resistance to medicines " stressed Prof. Mdegela.
He added that there is a need to increase the number of veterinary professionals in the country, especially those with a Certificate and Diploma qualifications as they are the ones who can work in rural areas as opposed to those with degree qualifications and above because many of them do not agree to live and work in rural areas and it is understandable that rural areas are home to the largest number of animals
He went on to explain that in Tanzania, there is only one university that produces veterinary medical practitioners which is the Sokoine University of Agriculture while in Ethiopia they have about 17 universities offering such programmes.
Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine programmes is currently the most sought after and popular programme at Sokoine University of Agriculture compared to when it started under the University of Dar es Salaam where it was able to accommodate 25 students only but now more than 200 students are admitted each year but the challenge is their market is left to the private sector only
“Veterinarians are not given the respect they deserve in the community as the community ignores their livestock because if you tell the pastoralist, for example, to send their sick cow for minor heart surgery that will cost maybe seven hundred thousand shillings while the cow is sold for three hundred thousand shillings then the pastoralist will see it better to slaughter and sell meat to people and this cause people to eat the meat of sick animals" Explained Prof. Mdegela.
For his part, senior lecturer from Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS), Prof. Japhet Killewo while presenting his paper on the One Health approach said that many people are unaware of the existence of these dangerous infectious diseases and also, on the other hand, they see no reason to solve them because they benefit from their presence in some ways
Prof. Japhet Killewo while presenting his topic on the use of One Health approach in fighting Infectious Diseases
He said that another challenge was the presence of a few skilled professionals and thus recommended that one health desk in the Prime Minister's Office seek and use diploma and certificate students to run various immunization campaigns in the community as it helps students as training but successfully implementing campaigns to eradicate these infectious diseases.
"The government should help educate the community to reduce the high use of drugs without following the advice of experts to eliminate this problem of microbes resistance in medicine and on the part of the district and municipal councils as they are the ones with the money to contribute to various vaccination campaigns in their budgets every year this will be very helpful to end the example of rabies and others ”stressed Prof. Killewo.
The 37th Annual Meeting and Scientific Conference of the Tanzania Public Health Association (TPHA) brought together more than 200 participants including researchers, health professionals, environmentalists, veterinarians from all regions in the country as well as students from various universities in the country especially SUA, MUHAS and others who got the opportunity to present their research results as part of their studies.
What is 'One Health'?
'One Health' is an approach to designing and implementing programmes, policies, legislation and research in which multiple sectors communicate and work together to achieve better public health outcomes.
The areas of work in which a One Health approach is particularly relevant include food safety, the control of zoonoses (diseases that can spread between animals and humans, such as flu, rabies and Rift Valley Fever), and combatting antibiotic resistance (when bacteria change after being exposed to antibiotics and become more difficult to treat).
Why do we need a One Health approach?
Many of the same microbes infect animals and humans, as they share the eco-systems they live in. Efforts by just one sector cannot prevent or eliminate the problem. For instance, rabies in humans is effectively prevented only by targeting the animal source of the virus (for example, by vaccinating dogs).
Information on influenza viruses circulating in animals is crucial to the selection of viruses for human vaccines for potential influenza pandemics. Drug-resistant microbes can be transmitted between animals and humans through direct contact between animals and humans or through contaminated food, so to effectively contain it, a well-coordinated approach in humans and in animals is required.
Who makes the One Health approach work?
Many professionals with a range of expertise who are active in different sectors, such as public health, animal health, plant health and the environment, should join forces to support One Health approaches.
To effectively detect, respond to, and prevent outbreaks of zoonoses and food safety problems, epidemiological data and laboratory information should be shared across sectors. Government officials, researchers and workers across sectors at the local, national, regional and global levels should implement joint responses to health threats.
Story and Photo Credits
Calvin Edward Gwabara, SUAMEDIA