The National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) has launched the International One Health Day.
The goal of the One Health Day is to build the cultural will necessary for a change in how planetary health challenges are assessed and addressed and how professionals exchange information across disciplines.
Initiated in 2016 by the One Health Commission, the One Health Platform, and the One Health Initiative Team, the International One Health Day is officially celebrated around the world every year on November 3.
Since 2017 the International One Health Day celebration has been used to increase awareness among policymakers and strongly advocate for the adoption of the One Health approach.
Addressing the launch of the International One Health Day on Friday, October 29, in Accra, the Director General of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), Mr Eric Nana Agyemang-Prempeh, said a national One Health Policy was being formulated for the country to ensure optimal health and well-being outcomes in the country.
He said his outfit 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 had produced the draft policy which would also recognise the health inter-connections between people, animals, plants and their shared environment.
Mr Agyemang-Prempeh also expressed the hope that the draft policy would soon be passed into law.
"Since 2018, NADMO has been supported by WHO and FAO to coordinate a consultative process at national, regional and district levels toward the development of a national Policy on One Health," Mr Agyemang-Prempeh said.
"This was facilitated by the multi-sector Technical Working Group for One Health under the auspices of NADMO. I am happy to announce that, through hard work, we have a final draft of One Health Policy and it is our intention, with the support of all stakeholders to submit for further discussions at the highest level to ensure it receives the nod and is passed into an Act by Parliament soon".
He said since 2017, the International One Health Day celebration had been used to increase awareness among policymakers and strongly advocate for the adoption of the One Health approach in Ghana.
The Deputy Director and Head, Surveillance of the GHS, Dr Franklin Asiedu-Bekoe said it was currently even more vital for the country to maintain inter-sectoral collaboration in the health sector to meet emerging threats such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr Asiedu-Bekoe said the disruptions that the pandemic had caused were currently threatening to undo the gains the country had made in the health sector.
"Ghana has made several achievements by implementing policies in delivering primary healthcare services through the National Health Insurance Scheme to children, older adults and pregnant women," Dr Asiedu-Bekoe said.
"The COVID-19 pandemic disrupts essential health services and threatens to undo the gains in the health sector of Ghana. There is a call on all to work together with the government to ensure that all Ghanaians enjoy good health and wellbeing by systematically addressing health inequities and offering equitable and affordable health services".
He, therefore, called on all stakeholders to work with the government to address health inequities and offer equitable as well as affordable health services to ensure that all Ghanaians enjoy good health.
On his part, the Acting Director General of the Veterinary Service Directorate, Dr Patrick Abakeh called for swift approval of the final draft policy to help the country adequately investigate and address future zoonotic disease (an infectious disease that is transmitted between species from animals to humans or from humans to animals) outbreaks.
He said when an outbreak was reported, "joint outbreak investigations from all sectors may be undertaken but there is no formal policy, strategy or plan for responding to zoonotic outbreaks".
He added that the roles played by the GHS, the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research in Tropical Medicine, the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, private labs, veterinary services and the public in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic was further evidence of the success of the One Health approach to healthcare.
A representative of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Mr Joy Hesse Ankomah stated the application of One Health principles had the potential to significantly improve the governance of infectious diseases in the country.
"Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic has 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," he said.