The Executive Director Uganda Wildlife Authority Sam Mwandha has taken over the leadership of the National One Health Platform at a function that was held the Ministry of Water and Environment Headquarters yesterday. The One Health Platform brings together the Ministries of Water and Environment, Health, Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries and Uganda Wildlife Authority, to ensuring inter-sector/agency collaboration to manage disease outbreaks, epidemics and other public health emergencies.
While receiving the tools of office, Sam Mwanda underscored the importance of having a united approach through interagency collaboration as the surest way to effectively and sustainably fight against zoonotic disease and protect public health. “As Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), we assume leadership of this platform with a firm belief that multi-stakeholder collaboration is key to solving most of public health challenges”.
He said that in 2004 and 2007 UWA had outbreaks of anthrax in Queen Elizabeth National Park that killed almost 300 hippos but it was controlled and managed through the collaborative efforts of the national taskforce that was put in place. “UWA therefore cannot afford to be complacent about initiatives like One Health because we know that they will greatly benefit our tourism industry and wildlife conservation at large” he said.
Mr. Sam Mwandha takes over the mantle of leadership from Mr. Paul Mafabi the Director of Environment in the Ministry of Water and Environment.
Uganda has over the years experienced a number of public health emergencies and 70% of these are of zoonotic in nature. The main disease outbreaks in the last 10 years include Ebola, Marburg, yellow fever, Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever, pandemic influenza, anthrax and rift valley fever. These diseases are said to originate from diverse sources and therefor require multi-sectoral and multidisciplinary approach to manage them.
This collaborative effort will help in combating out breaks such as Anthrax that have previously cost both human and wildlife as well as disrupting tourism and conservation efforts in Uganda leading to loss of revenue from tourism.