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Ebola demonstrates One Health challenges and opportunities

Veterinary public health expert and professor in the Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine Dr. Wondwossen Gebreyes is the lead author of "The Global One Health Paradigm: Challenges and Opportunities for Tackling Infectious Diseases at the Human, Animal and Environment Interface in Low-Resource Settings," which was published Nov. 13 in Public Library of Science, Neglected Tropical Diseases.

According to a press release from The Ohio State University's Office of Research, the journal article defines priorities for detection and prevention of Ebola and similar infectious diseases, and names the Ebola pandemic as a reminder of "the danger of zoonotic infections...and the staggering damage they do, especially in developing nations that lack a variety of resources."

Gebreyes, also director of the College of Veterinary Medicine's Global Health Program, launched a One Health partnership in 2013 between Ohio State's seven health science colleges and Ethiopian government, educational and service agencies, in order to create sustainable alliances in teaching, research and more using One Health principles.

"These diseases don’t just kill people, but they cause tremendous economic harm in a variety of ways: killing livestock, reducing the ranks of qualified health and education providers, creating political unrest and stopping development in its tracks," the release stated.

The piece was co-authored by an interdisciplinary, multi-institutional and international group consisting of Gebreyes and 18 others involved in the One Health initiative, four of whom are also faculty members at Ohio State's College of Veterinary Medicine, and specified an "urgent need for progress" amid a world that's on track to have one or more deadly disease outbreaks each year. They also state that 75 percent of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic. 

Some primary concerns that the One Health partnership has addressed since its creation include enhanced screening and treatment for cervical cancer, which thousands of Ethiopian women die from annually, a roadmap for the prevention and control of rabies - what Gebreyes coined the "year-round Ebola of Ethiopia" - as a model for the One Health platform and advancements in environmental health and food safety and security.

Four priority areas for capacity-building in low-resource areas were determined in the PLOS article, according to the press release:

  • Development of adequate science-based, risk-management policies
  • Increased number of skilled One Health personnel
  • Environmental and clinical diagnostic labs with a shared database, and
  • Improved use of existing natural resources.

Nov. 14, 2014


Last updated: 

Monday, November 24, 2014 - 12:00pm