National One-Health Policy To Be Laid In Parliament - NADMO Boss

A National One-Health Policy is being formulated to ensure the optimal health and well-being of the citizens.

The draft policy is currently awaiting further discussions at the Ministerial level to ensure that it receives the nod and gets passed into an Act by Parliament.

Mr Eric Nana Agyeman-Prempeh, the Director-General of the National Disaster Management Organisation ( NADMO), disclosed this at a pre-media briefing prior to the 2021 International One-Health Day celebration on November 3.

This year's celebration is on the theme, "Let Us Build a Fairer and Healthier World for Everyone".

In Ghana, there will be a community durbar at Pong-Tamale on November 3, to commemorate the day.

NADMO in collaboration with over 20 state and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) including the Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service (GHS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Veterinary Service Department has produced the draft policy, which would also recognise the health interconnections between people, animals, plants and their shared environment.

Mr Agyeman-Prempeh said, One-Health Day was initiated in 2016 to draw global attention to the need for one health collaboration across various sectors and disciplines, and to allow the world to "see them together work in action"

He said Ghana had since 2017 been celebrating the day with support from WHO, FAO, and USAID to create awareness among policymakers, advocate for the adoption of One-Health Approach and provide a policy framework to guide implementation.

It is also to advocate for stronger collaboration among the human, animal, and environment sectors, as well as the public to canvas for their support for the implementation of One Health Approach at the community level.

The Director-General said one of the aims would be to sensitize the media and solicit their support to educate the public about the One-Health Approach and its benefit to society.

NADMO has since 2018 through the support from FAO and WHO has been coordinating consultative processes at the national, regional, and district-level toward the development of a National Policy on One Health.

That, Mr Agyeman-Prempeh said, was facilitated by the multi-sector Technical Working Group for One-Health under the auspices of NADMO.

"Through hard work and support by all stakeholders engaged in the process, we have a final draft of One-Health Policy," he added.

Dr Franklin Asiedu-Bekoe, the Director of Public Health Division of the Ghana Health Service, stressed the need to ensure that equity in health was the centerpiece of the country's COVID-19 recovery.

He said the pandemic had hardly hit countries, but its impact had been harshest on those communities, which already faced significant vulnerability, who are more exposed to the disease, and likely to have access to quality health service and more likely to experience adverse consequences due to measures implemented to contain the pandemic.

He noted that building a fairer and healthier society for everyone required country engagement, which is seen as a key driver in addressing long-standing social and inequities.

Dr Asiedu-Bekoe said advancing health equity means creating a more resilient and equitable environment that would enable and empower communities to make decisions to benefit their health and well-being.

The Country Representative of FAO, Ndiaga Goeye, said the Organisation is also working closely with other partners to promote the One-Health Approach at the country level.

He said improper use of antibiotics was a major cause of infectious diseases among animals and humans.

To address this, the FAO and partners are running a series of workshops to create awareness on the issue, he said.

He, therefore, pledged their commitment and continuous support for government's efforts to ensure a healthier environment for all.

Dr Sally-Ann Ohene, Disease Prevention and Control Officer, WHO said it was important to have policies to bring stakeholders together to function well and pledge her outfit's continuous support for the One Health Technical Group to streamline their activities.

Mr Joy Hesse-Ankomah from Environmental Protection Agency, said the application of One-Health principles had the potential to significantly improve the governance of infectious diseases in the country.

He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic had reinforced the relevance of the One-Health principle of the global governance of infectious diseases, in particular in international efforts to prevent and contain zoonotic diseases.

"Currently, there is no formal strategy in reporting zoonotic diseases," he said and commended NADMO and the Technical Group for their efforts.