Celebrating One Health in Kenya

The University of Nairobi promotes One Health during a week-long celebration for One Health Day.

One Health Day is an international campaign celebrated to bring global attention to the need for One Health interactions and for the world to ‘see them in action.’ The One Health Day campaign, co-coordinated by the One Health Commission, the One Health Initiative Autonomous pro bono team, and the One Health Platform Foundation, was designed to engage as many individuals as possible from different areas in One Health education and awareness events, and to generate an inspiring array of projects worldwide.

The launch of the One Health celebrations at the University of Nairobi brought many members together from both the School of Public Health and the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, including the College Principal, Dean, departmental heads, faculty members (both from University of Nairobi and University of Minnesota) and students of the One Health Student Club.

The goals of the activity included: official launch of the One Health Week/ Day Celebrations at the University of Nairobi, bringing together the faculty and student One Health Student Club members to reflect on One Health issues, and sensitizing the college community on One Health matters.

One Health Sensitization Workshop at the School of Public Health

A One Health Sensitization Workshop was held at the School of Public Health for 60 medical students where they shared their experiences in One Health. In attendance was Prof. Carolyn Porta and Prof. Nasra Giama, both from School of Nursing at the University of Minnesota. The two nurses introduced topics on One Health as a model for addressing infectious disease threats. The sessions were very interactive with students narrating cases in which they have been confronted with scenarios that lead them into thinking about One Health while attending to their patients and in the course of their studies.

Field Training Inside Nairobi National Park

The highlight of the week-long celebrations at the University of Nairobi was a field training to the Nairobi National Park, a wildlife sanctuary situated in an urban setting.

One component of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) mission is to conserve the “wildlife” and natural processes within its units. Wildlife includes everything from large mammals to the smallest organisms, such as bacteria and parasites. Native organisms that cause disease may be part of the naturally functioning ecosystem that is protected within a park. The health of these ecosystems contributes to the overall health of all species — plants, animals, and people!

Today, wildlife are more often victims of diseases that are emerging due to human activities and changing landscapes. In these cases, prevention and management are often necessary to protect and sustain healthy wildlife populations. Wildlife and ecosystem health are key components of the One Health concept, which recognizes that the health of humans, animals and the environment are interconnected. A holistic, One Health approach is needed to understand, protect, and promote the health of all species. In light of this concern, the field training explored the challenges and opportunities for addressing this situation in a One Health context with emphasis on multi-disciplinary collaboration.

In order to carry out this training, four multidisciplinary teams made up of veterinary, medical, nursing, wildlife, nutrition and dietetics and agriculture students were assigned different thematic areas to identify the current and potential One Health challenges and the current intervention(s) in place in the national park.

Students were guided by faculty but were expected to conduct the exercise themselves and present their findings on One Health challenge(s), suggest improvements on current interventions, and propose new interventions to address the challenges. The students were assessed on their ability to identify One Health issues, recognition of the One Health triad, and the need for a multidisciplinary approach to One Health interventions.

The field training exposed the students to practical One Health challenges and interventions at the human, animal, and environmental interface; allowed students to extend their learning and develop solutions to One Health challenges; and exposed students to a multidisciplinary working environment and working within teams.

About the Authors

With support from the USAID One Health Workforce project, the One Health Central and Eastern Africa network’s Kenya office trains the current and future One Health workforce to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats.