Trilateral Guide To Preventing Spread Of Animal-Human Diseases

A extensive new guide released today provides detailed instructions and insight for governments and regions to prevent and combat zoonotic diseases – those that can spread between animals and humans, such as rabies, which continue to have “major impacts” on human health.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and the World Health Organization (WHO) today launched a 166-page guide entitled, ‘Taking a Multisectoral, One Health Approach: A Tripartite Guide to Addressing Zoonotic Diseases in Countries’.

“Every year, nearly 60 000 people die from rabies, and other zoonotic diseases such as avian influenza, Ebola or Rift Valley fever constitute additional threats,” said a press release from the launch. “These diseases do not only affect human health, but also animal health and welfare, causing lowered productivity (milk or egg quality and safety, etc.), or death, and consequently affecting farmers’ livelihoods and countries’ economies.”

“Diseases know no borders,” it said. “As global trade and travel expands, zoonotic diseases are increasingly posing concerns worldwide. Every day, new health challenges emerge at the human-animal-environment interface. To face these threats, collaboration, coordination, communication, and concerted action between different sectors are needed, using a multisectoral, One Health approach. However, many countries lack the capacity to implement such collaboration.”

The guide, which the release said is referred to as the Tripartite Zoonoses Guide (TZG), provides principles, best practices and options to assist countries in achieving sustainable and functional collaboration at the human-animal-environment interface. It is flexible enough to be used for other health threats; for example, food safety and antimicrobial resistance (AMR), it said.

“The TZG is a guide, not a standard or requirement,” the report makes clear. “It offers summaries of the objectives to be reached, actions believed to be best practice and a variety of options for reaching the objective.”

By using the guide and its associated operational tools (“which are currently being developed”), the release said, countries can build or strengthen their national capacities in:

  • “Multisectoral, One Health coordination mechanisms
  • Strategic planning and emergency preparedness
  • Surveillance and information sharing
  • Coordinated investigation and response
  • Joint risk assessment for zoonotic disease threats
  •  Risk reduction, risk communication, and community engagement
  • Workforce development”

In addition, options for monitoring and evaluating the function and impact of these activities are included “to support countries in their efforts to make improvements in their zoonotic disease frameworks, strategies and policies,” it said. “Moreover, taking the One Health approach presented in the TZG helps countries to make the best use of limited resources and reduces indirect societal losses, such as impacts on livelihoods of small producers, poor nutrition, and restriction of trade and tourism.”

More information can be found at:

The report states that to date, only one jointly-developed, zoonotic diseases-specific guidance document exists: the 2008 Tripartite “Zoonotic Diseases: A Guide to Establishing Collaboration between Animal and Human Health Sectors at the Country Level.”

The three agencies have updated and expanded the 2008 Guide “to cover prevention, preparedness, detection and response to zoonotic threats at the animal-human-environment interface in all countries and regions, and to include examples of best practices and options based on the experiences of countries,” according to the report. “Although focused on zoonotic diseases, the 2019 Guide is flexible enough to cover other health threats at the human-animal-environment interface (e.g., antimicrobial resistance and food safety).”

For additional support to countries implementing the 2019 Guide, “the Tripartite will develop Operational Tools to support implementation of each of the technical subject areas within this guide, such as best practices in interagency cooperative action, data collection and reporting templates, and model standard operating procedure,” it states.

The report advocates aligning with existing international and regional frameworks, as “most countries work within one or more frameworks that require coordination across sectors and disciplines.” Examples include the:

• International Health Regulations;
• OIE standards;
• Sustainable Development Goals;
• regional frameworks;
• Global Health Security Agenda;
• Codex Alimentarius;
• antimicrobial resistance frameworks;
• International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN)

The report says an article is currently being prepared for the 2019 OIE Scientific and Technical Review that will provide “additional guidance for countries on uses and alignment of the various tools and resources,” adding, “This Guide provides practical operational guidance and options for implementing national activities to support these frameworks.”

The report also can be applied to the regional context.

An area of significant detail in the report is the establishment of a multisectoral, One Health coordination mechanism (MCM) for zoonotic diseases, which “refers to any formalized, standing, group that acts to strengthen or develop collaboration, communication, and coordination across the sectors responsible for addressing zoonotic diseases and other health concerns at the human-animal-environment interface,” it says.

“An MCM has routine, ongoing functions and is responsible for coordination, leadership, and governance of efforts among the relevant sectors to achieve jointly determined and agreed common goals,” it says.

It also counsels on technical coordination, including coordination of six activities discussed in Chapter 5 (strategic planning and emergency preparedness; surveillance and information sharing; outbreak investigation and response; joint risk assessment; risk reduction, communication strategies and community engagement; and workforce development).

Other examples of guidance in the report are: training of responders and conducting simulation exercises, developing coordinated surveillance systems, mapping infrastructure, identifying priority zoonotic diseases, conducting joint risk assessments, and monitoring and evaluation.

Key overarching principles include ensuring the inclusion of diverse, key stakeholders, and building trust.

Finally, the report contains dozens of concise descriptions of country experiences.


Image Credits: OIE/WHO/FAO.

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