The fourth annual One Health Symposium was held June 29-30 in Champasack province. This year, the primary objectives of the meeting were to strengthen coordination and collaboration between multi-disciplinary sectors, improve International Health Regulation (IHR) Core Capacity, and facilitate information sharing through research, projects, and outbreak investigations.
Participants included provincial focal points for animal-human health issues, government officials, clinicians, animal health and environment workers, representatives from United Nations organizations, and students from Health Sciences University, Agricultural College, and field epidemiology trainees. They attended presentations and engaged in panel discussions on important public health issues.
In his opening remarks, Paul Mayer, the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Vientiane noted, “This two-day Symposium reflects the Lao government’s prioritization in addressing emerging and re-emerging infectious disease threats, many of which have been recognized for their pandemic potential. With U.S. support, we are building a foundation of cooperation and mutual support that will continue into the future,” Mr. Mayer also emphasized that multi-sector partnerships were critical to addressing these threats, particularly with animal and human health sectors.
One Health is an internationally renowned approach recognizing that the health of humans, animals, and ecosystems are interconnected. The approach involves applying coordinated, collaborative, multidisciplinary and cross-sector approaches at the animal-human-ecosystem interface. One Health aspires to reduce the global impact of emerging and zoonotic infectious diseases.
In Lao PDR, high pathogenic avian influenza and other zoonotic diseases still continue to cause major outbreaks. They obstruct socio-economic development and pose animal and human health challenges to both the agriculture and health sectors. In 2011, a national zoonotic disease co-ordination mechanism for Lao PDR was developed and disseminated to establish functional and sustainable coordination on zoonotic diseases between animal–health sectors. The One Health Symposium is a product of that mechanism, and its fourth iteration was organized by the National Emerging Infection Disease Coordination office in collaboration with the World Health Organization and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), with support from the United States Agency for International Development, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the European Union.