Short report on implications of Covid-19 and emerging zoonotic infectious diseases for pastoralists and Africa
Many emerging and re-emerging zoonotic infectious diseases occur in Africa. These are projected to increase as human–animal host contact increases owing to increasing environmental degradation that shrinks nature habitats for wildlife over the continent. The current outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) responsible for causing coronavirus disease in 2019 (COVID-19) has reinvigorated discourse on the disruptiveness of the zoonotic emerging infectious diseases, owing to their transboundary character. Even as the world focuses on the COVID-19 sweeping pandemic, the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS)-CoV re-emerged in Saudi Arabia infecting 18 people with five deaths; this has barely received any attention. This outbreak is particularly of concern to the pastoralists in the Horn of Africa, a region that has in recent past seen an increase in camel trade with the Gulf States, especially Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Emerging and re-emerging zoonotic infectious diseases are complex, depend on human–animal–environment interaction and pose a strain on public health systems. There is a need to address these diseases dynamically through a synergistic approach, drawing on expertise from diverse sectors. One Health approach has distinguished itself as an integrative action able to bring together multiple actors on a global, national and local scale to advance the attainment of optimal health outcomes for people, animals and the environment. One Health works by strengthening the preparedness, response, mitigation and monitoring of zoonotic infectious disease risks collaboratively. We opine that as zoonotic emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases continue to rise over pastoral Africa, comprehensive implementation of the One Health approach will be urgently required.
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