The One Health High-Level Expert Panel (OHHLEP) has developed an operational definition of One Health which recognises the links and interdependence of the health of humans, domestic and wild animals, and plants and the environment, and mobilises multiple sectors, disciplines and communities.
Welcoming this definition, together with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH, formerly OIE) has also underlined the urgency of considering Veterinary Services as part of the health workforce and as an essential component of One Health resilience.
How is WOAH supporting its Members in strengthening their competencies to match up to this challenge?
Capacity building plays a crucial role in supporting the reinforcement of the WOAH Members’ Veterinary Services through the WOAH PVS Pathway(1) and the WOAH Training Platform.(2)
While the PVS Pathway provides institutional and country-tailored services for the Competent Authorities, the Training Platform delivers learner-centred opportunities for individuals. The two initiatives, combined and mutually supported, guarantee a simultaneous competency-oriented top-down and bottom-up approach to capacity building.
The PVS support for One Health
The PVS evaluation mission, gap analysis and strategic planning help to identify the strengths and weaknesses of Veterinary Services (including interactions with other sectors), define priorities and develop a national sustainable improvement plan integrated with governmental processes and with optimised use of resources. More resilient Veterinary Services contribute to Global Health with a strengthened capacity to prevent, detect and respond to pandemic threats. The PVS-targeted support increases such capacity by addressing specific aspects, i.e. legislation, laboratories, education, workforce assessment and development and public–private partnership. All these services consider One Health needs and are instrumental to its implementation.
The International Health Regulations (IHR)/PVS national bridging workshops are WHO/WOAH coordinated events bringing together public health and animal health services to improve collaboration on prevention, detection and response to zoonotic diseases and other health events at the animal–human interface.
A One Health learning framework
While developing a full competency package on One Health in its competency-based learning framework, in 2022 the WOAH training platform will deliver eLearning modules on leadership in Veterinary Services, in which the capacities of veterinary leaders to sustain the role of Veterinary Services in global health systems are exercised and strengthened.
Similar opportunities are offered by the Global Laboratory Leadership Programme (GLLP), an initiative by the WHO, WOAH, FAO, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (USCDC), European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and US Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) that is intended to strengthen laboratory capacity to play a critical role in the prevention, detection and control of diseases.
Finally, new opportunities will be offered through the WOAH–WHO collaborative Learning Framework to ‘Build lifelong learning for the One Health workforce’, an initiative implemented by a collaboration between the WHO Academy and WOAH Training Platform. Reinforcing One Health capacity amongst the animal and human health and environmental workforce of national health systems in WOAH and WHO Member States, this collaborative approach is intended to generate new knowledge and bring innovation in health training and learning, promoting a One Health cultural change to inspire a collaborative mindset.
The One Health capacity-building future is now
All these initiatives will be conveyed into the FAO/WOAH/WHO/UNEP Global Plan of Action for One Health, expected in the first quarter of 2022, as concrete tools for the effective implementation, at global, regional, national and community levels, of multisectoral collaboration to protect the health of humans, animals, plants and ecosystems.
(1) The WOAH Performance of Veterinary Services (PVS) Pathway is the WOAH’s flagship capacity-building platform for the sustainable improvement of national Veterinary Services. It empowers national Veterinary Services by providing them with a comprehensive understanding of their strengths and weaknesses using a globally consistent methodology based on international standards – a useful external perspective that can reveal gaps, inefficiencies and opportunities for innovation.
(2) The WOAH Platform for the Training of Veterinary Services is a mechanism that brings together providers of technical and educational expertise, primarily the WOAH Reference Centres. The WOAH Platform Secretariat, hosted at École Nationale des Services Vétérinaires (WOAH Collaborating Centre for Training of Official Veterinarians based in Lyon, France), is in charge of leading, coordinating and monitoring WOAH training activities.