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Africa needs to prioritize One Health approaches that focus on the environment, animal health and human health

Urbanization, armed conflict, and deforestation in African countries have increased the risk of zoonotic infections, which requires a One Health approach focused on the environment, animal health and human health.

The past two decades have witnessed a global increase in the frequency of emerging and re-emerging infectious-disease epidemics. African countries have experienced the devastating impact of successive epidemics that are projected to have caused a loss of over 227 million years of healthy life and an annual productivity loss of over US$800 billion across the continent1. Between 2016 and 2018, over 260 infectious-disease epidemics, disasters and other potential public-health emergencies were identified in Africa, with 41 (79%) of the 52 countries in the region recording at least one epidemic during that period2. The five top causes of disease epidemics were cholera, measles, viral hemorrhagic diseases, malaria and meningitis.

The 2014–2016 West African outbreak of Ebola virus disease and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have further exposed the vulnerability of health systems in Africa3 and have amplified the threat posed by zoonotic spillover of infectious diseases to the health and economic security of the continent. Increasing trade and migration of people between and among African nations increases the risk that disease outbreaks within Africa rapidly cross international borders to impact global health security.

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Journal Article
Otu A
Effa E
Meseko C
Cadmus S
Ochu C
Athingo R
Namisango E
Ogoina D
Okonofua F
Ebenso B