Mnisi Community Programme | Hluvukani Animal Clinic | Hans Hoheisen Wildlife Research Station
The University of Pretoria does not only have the only Faculty of Veterinary Science in the country but is the only tertiary institution with a full set of faculties that would allow the national and regional development of the One Health concept within the Southern African Development Community (SADC), with a focus on the animal/human/ecosystem interface.
A complex mosaic of human, animal and environmental interfaces creates an ever increasing threat in the form of trans-boundary, emerging and re-emerging diseases. Over the last 50 years, the impact of these diseases, especially zoonotic diseases on the world’s economy, particularly animal and human populations, has prompted a more collaborative effort between animal and human professionals in addressing emerging and other global health threats. Today over 60% of recognised human infectious diseases are zoonoses in that they originate from the movement of pathogens mostly from wildlife and livestock to humans.
The further severe impact of pollution on environmental, animal and human health throughout the world has highlighted the importance of ecosystem health. It is increasingly accepted that these challenges can only be addressed by One Health approaches. This concept is defined as the collaborative effort of multiple disciplines working locally, nationally and globally to attain optimal health for people, animals and the environment. It necessitates multifaceted and interdisciplinary networking and collaboration between experts in the professions of veterinary, human health, environmental, ecological, agricultural, and conservation sciences, to name but a few.
The challenges to serve and sustain Africa’s ecosystems of unparalleled richness by One Health approaches are enormous: It is fair to state that the human-animal-ecosystem interfaces in much of the continent with its rich and diverse fauna and flora, biodiversity and cultures are unique and more complicated than elsewhere.
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UP’s One Health Platform
The One Health Platform of the University of Pretoria consists of two components: An institutional platform at the University supporting research, teaching and learning and continuing professional development in One Health. The second platform is the field- based platform at the Hans Hoheisen Wildlife Research Station (HHWRS) with a well-equipped laboratory supporting applied training, research and community engagement. The combined capacity and infrastructure of the institutional and field-based platforms provide a unique platform for training and research based on the One Health concept.
Research and training programmes such as the Mnisi Community Programme (MCP), the Hluvukani Animal Clinic (HAC), and HHWRS are eminently suited to school students and researchers locally and internationally in One Health. This will foster a multidisciplinary approach to addressing the complex challenges and to develop sustainable solutions for the problems associated with livestock/wildlife/ human/ecosystem at the interface.
One Health Summer School
The Faculty of Veterinary Science annually hosts a One Health Summer School. Selected under- and postgraduate students from UCDavis, IOWA State University, Royal Veterinary College, Utrecht University, Southern African Centre for Infectious Diseases Surveillance (SACIDS), Research Platform - Production and Conservation in Partnership (RP-PCP), University of Zimbabwe and the University of Pretoria attend a two week programme. During their stay the students are exposed to different One Health environments at the human/livestock/wildlife/ecosystem interface. The students are joined by facilitators from each institution who share their knowledge and expertise in the context of One Health.
The purpose of the Summer School is to provide students from diverse backgrounds with the opportunity to develop and apply their leadership, communication, team-building, as well as analytical and critical thinking skills to assess and respond to global health problems arising at the human/animal/ecosystem interface and to design, implement, and evaluate practical, cost-effective, and sustainable solutions in collaboration with local and regional stakeholders and global partners. The focus is on the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (GLTFCA) as it is one of the most important health interfaces in the Region.