One Health Central and Eastern Africa Network Officially Launched in Cameroon

One Health Central and Eastern Africa (OHCEA) is a network of 21 Public Health and Veterinary Higher Education Institutions located in eight African countries, including Cameroon. OHCEA’s main goal is to build capacity in One Health through multi-disciplinary research, training and community service. The Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Montagne became a member of OHCEA in July 2015. A year later, OHCEA expanded the network in Cameroon by adding University of Buea’s Faculty of Health Sciences, and Faculty of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine. Following one year of implementation of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funded One Health Workforce project in Cameroon, OHCEA was officially launched on 28 October, 2016 at the Hotel Mont Febe in Yaoundé.

The launch brought together key One Health stakeholders in the Cameroon government, USAID Emerging Pandemic Threats program partners, development partners, U.S. university partners, university representatives and OHCEA representatives. The representative of the Minister of Health, Cameroon, Professor Samuel KINGUE, was the chief guest. Also in attendance were officials of the Ministry of Higher Education, members of the diplomatic corps accredited to Cameroon, representatives from USAID PREDICT and Preparedness & Response (P&R) projects, faculty members of both universities, members of the One Health Student Club, and local media. Prof. John David Kabasa was the Head of the OHCEA delegation. Other OHCEA members included Prof. Gebrehiwot Tadesse, OHCEA Board Member; Dr. Irene Naigaga, Program Manager; and Dr. Juvenal Kagarama, One Health Workforce Technical Advisor, Francophone.

In his welcome address, the President of the University des Montagne, Professor Lazare KAPTUE, thanked everyone for honoring the occasion with their presence. He particularly paid tribute to OHCEA for having admitted the two institutions into the network, thus giving them the opportunity of building a professional workforce capable of responding to zoonotic diseases. He promised to work with partners to contribute to the global One Health movement.

In his speech, the P&R Country Deputy Representative, Serge Nzietchueng, outlined the long-term relationship between world population growth and the emergence & spread of pandemic diseases.

Professor John David Kabasa delivered a key note address on the role of universities and education in shaping a professional workforce capable of combating emerging and re-emerging zoonotic diseases. He cautioned that Africa is a ‘global bio-risk incubator,’ there is need to be safe and clean as Africa moves about to integrate and do business in the global world. He called for a dissolution of ‘sectoral and discipline tribalism,’ starting with university training, urging that the future is intertwined.

About the Authors

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