Brainstorming sessions: US experts help develop plan to control zoonotic diseases

ISLAMABAD: Experts from the US were in Pakistan to help develop strategies against zoonotic diseases.

Such diseases spread from animals to humans and each year before Edul Azha authorities are on their toes to monitor Congo Fever which spreads from ticks on cattle to people.

Besides, during rains, the biggest zoonosis, malaria becomes a major health hazard. Moreover, zoonotic also include diseases caused by bacteria, virus and fungi, all microscopic animals.

With the monsoon rains intensifying the risk of malaria and upcoming Eidul Azha alerting health authorities to keep watch on Congo Fever, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) were in the country to help with zoonotic control.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the USDA supported the government of Pakistan with the development of their National One Health Framework and Strategic Plan Development Workshop July 16 – 20.

Zoonotic diseases are those which can spread between humans and animals, such as rabies and brucellosis. The workshop focused on zoonotic diseases of national and international significance.

Pakistan recently established a One Health Hub in the Pakistan National Institute of Health (NIH), which will support collaboration and coordination between the human and animal health sectors on infectious zoonotic diseases.  This workshop was organised in response to a request from the Pakistani government for technical assistance in developing a strategic plan to prevent, detect and respond to infectious disease outbreaks in Pakistan.

In addition, CDC and USDA experts discussed strategies to control rabies and brucellosis, which the Pakistani government prioritised as part of the One Health Zoonotic Disease Prioritisation and One Health Systems Mapping and Analysis Toolkit (OH-SMART™) workshop held in August 2017.

The Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (MoNHSRC), the Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MoNFSR), the Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC), and the Provincial, Gilgit-Baltistan, ICT and AJK Health, Livestock, and Environment Departments and Ministries participated.

Annual exercise

Last year too CDC, UDA and Pakistani health authorities got together to devise measures to contain zoonotic diseases. The meeting held in August 2017 concurred that veterinary and human health sectors need to work together to control zoonotic dieseases.

The workshop had proposed a plan for control of zoonotic disease — which are animal diseases that can spread to humans such as Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic fever, rabies, brucellosis and avian influenza.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2018.

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