ONE HEALTH APPROACH: An Integrated Approach to Managing Non-Communicable Diseases

The burden of Non- communicable diseases (NCDs) increasingly has developed over time falling on the low and middle-income countries with Uganda inclusive.

Author: Wejuli Junior Mike

Uganda has recently been considered a hotspot for emerging and re-emerging infectious communicable disease epidemics with the country experiencing several epidemics including Ebola, Marburg, Plague, Rift valley fever, Yellow fever, and the recent COVID 19 pandemic. Over the years, the country has managed to these. However the burden of Non- communicable diseases (NCDs) increasingly has developed over time falling on the low and middle-income countries with Uganda inclusive.

The World Health Organization estimates that NCDs kill 41 million people and contribute to 74% of the global mortality burden. These on the other hand now exceed the death by communicable diseases hence calling for preventive strategies. Many strategies have been employed over the years but some have been left not effective due to unilateralism and hence the need for the ONE HEALTH STRATEGY

One health is defined by the Centre for Disease Control as a collaborative, multi-sectoral, and transdisciplinary approach working locally, regionally, nationally, and globally with the ultimate goal of obtaining optimum health by recognizing the interactions between people, animals, plants, and their shared environments. 

Human activities employ chemicals and substances that over time become unhealthy to both animals, humans, and the environment e.g. heavy metals. When released in the environment, then they will cause bioaccumulation until they find their way into the human body leading to carcinogenic effects and other health effects.

Additionally, plants could be the sole source of the toxinogenic substances e.g. the aflatoxins found in most cereals. The role of NCD prevention has been mainly left and described to be one of the public health yet most of the different sectors could play different roles as it has been with the communicable diseases for example The public health sector employs NCD epidemiological surveillance, monitoring, and evaluation with associated preventive measures like health education.

The veterinary sector manages animal health to prevent the accumulation of toxinogenic substances from the environment and also monitor and treat animal cases while the Environmental scientists conduct environmental monitoring, impact assessments, and other activities that prevent the introduction of substances in the environment that are linked to NCDs like the heavy metals while the sociologists conduct education for behavior change so that community lifestyle is driven further away from behaviors that re risk factors for NCDs as Policymakers make strategic policies and laws.

Hence, this burden especially in the country will no longer be a burden for a particular sector but will become a smaller problem for the entire collaboration and it will easily be managed the similar way it has been employed and been successful on the communicable diseases.

NB: The biggest health issues we face would be smaller issues if only a multi-sectoral approach is employed.
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