“A united approach by different agencies is the surest way to effectively and sustainably fight against zoonotic diseases and protect public health.”
KAMPALA - Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) executive director Sam Mwandha has emphasised the need to have a united approach through collaboration of different agencies to protect people's and animals' health.
"As UWA, we assume leadership of this platform with a firm belief that multi-stakeholder collaboration is the key to solving most of nature health challenges," he said.
"A united approach by different agencies is the surest way to effectively and sustainably fight against zoonotic diseases and protect public health."
This was as Mwandha took over the leadership of the National One Health Platform at a function that was held the Ministry of Water and Environment headquarters in Kampala recently.
The platform brings together the ministries of water and environment, health and agriculture plus UWA to ably handle and contain disease outbreaks, epidemics and other public health emergencies.
Mwandha pointed back at the period from 2004 to 2007 when UWA had outbreaks of anthrax in Queen Elizabeth National Park that killed almost 300 hippos.
"It was controlled and managed through the collaborative efforts of the national taskforce that was put in place.
"UWA, therefore, cannot afford to be complacent about initiatives like One Health because we know that they will greatly benefit our tourism industry and wildlife conservation at large," said the UWA boss.
Mwandha takes over the mantle of leadership from the Director of Environment in the Ministry of Water and Environment, Paul Mafabi.
Uganda has over the years experienced several public health emergencies and 70% of them have been zoonotic (can be transmitted from animals to humans) in nature.
The tourism and health-threatening disease outbreaks include Ebola, Marburg, yellow fever, Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever, pandemic influenza, anthrax and rift valley fever.
UWA spokesperson Simplicious Gessa said the above-mentioned diseases are said to originate from diverse sources that need a multi-sectoral and multidisciplinary approach to manage them.
"This collaborative effort will keep numbers of tourists destined to Uganda growing because of the way they were handled in comparison to other destinations with similar attractions," he said.
"Together we can combat these outbreaks known to endanger human and wild lives."