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Kakamega hosts workshop on prevention, management of zoonotic diseases


  It is estimated that 59,000 people across the world die annually from rabies and in Kenya, it is estimated that about 2,000 people die from the disease. [iStockphoto]

Kakamega County in partnership with the ZoNoH project and Kenya's Zoonotic Disease Unit (ZDU) is conducting a workshop aimed at lowering the risk of zoonoses in the food system.

The workshop which aims at establishing a County One Health Unit (COHU) within the county aligns with the Kenya One Health Strategic Plan for Prevention and Control of Zoonotic Disease (2021-2025).

The workshop also aims at enhancing coordination and implementation of the One Health approach at the county level to improve the prevention and management of zoonotic diseases and other priority One Health issues within the local food system.

ZoNoH project coordinator Dr Kelvin Momanyi in his remarks said the Covid-19 crisis had shown sector players the importance of not just responding to pandemics but actively preventing them.

“This workshop is a crucial step towards integrating One Health strategies into local governance and public health initiatives,” said Momanyi.

Momanyi said reducing the risks of zoonotic diseases will require local, national, and global efforts that anticipate how climate change could impact future transmission.

According to Momanyi, the expected outcomes from the workshop include the establishment of the Kakamega County One Health Unit (COHU), fostering collaboration among stakeholders in the One Health sector, enhancing the technical capabilities of the relevant county professionals in the mitigation of zoonotic diseases, and laying of a foundation for future engagement between ZoNoH and Kakamega County.

Dr Khadija Chepkorir, an epidemiologist at the Zoonotic Disease Unit said establishing the Kakamega COHU is a critical move toward synchronizing their efforts and enhancing their response capabilities within the community.

“Effective collaboration and coordination across human, animal and environmental health sectors is our most powerful tool against the threat of zoonotic diseases and other public health events,” said Khadija.

Zoonotic diseases are infections that are spread between human beings and animals resulting in illness, death, and negatively impacting livelihoods.

Disease control functions are divided between the national and county governments with the national government mainly involved in policy formulation and the county governments tasked with prevention and response to zoonotic disease outbreaks.

Khadija’s sentiments were echoed by Kakamega County Director of Public Health Dr William Olaka who the county’s commitment to strengthening zoonotic disease management through the One Health approach is more crucial than ever.

“As we confront the recent anthrax outbreaks in Kakamega and which normally occur between March and July every year, our commitment to strengthening zoonotic disease management through the One Health approach is more crucial than ever,” he said.

Olaka said by enhancing the county’s preparedness and response strategies, they aim to safeguard not only the health of our community but also the economic stability that supports it.

“These outbreaks remind us of the ongoing need for robust collaboration across health sectors to effectively manage and prevent such threats,” he said.

ZoNoH Project is a collaboration between Wageningen University and Research, Transdisciplinary Consultants, and other stakeholders in the private and public sectors.

The project aims at lowering the risk of zoonoses in the food system by strengthening the capacity of county governments to better manage zoonosis, capacity building for One Health and Food Systems operationalization and tapping into existing data for assessment of health and socio-economic impacts of zoonoses in food systems.

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