Practices in research, surveillance and control of neglected tropical diseases by One Health approaches: A survey targeting scientists from French-speaking countries.
One health (OH) approaches have increasingly been used in the last decade in the fight against zoonotic neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). However, descriptions of such collaborations between the human, animal and environmental health sectors are still limited for French-speaking tropical countries. The objective of the current survey was to explore the diversity of OH experiences applied to research, surveillance and control of NTDs by scientists from French-speaking countries, and discuss their constraints and benefits. Six zoonotic NTDs were targeted: echinococcoses, trypanosomiases, leishmaniases, rabies, Taenia solium cysticercosis and leptospiroses. Invitations to fill in an online questionnaire were sent to members of francophone networks on NTDs and other tropical diseases. Results from the questionnaire were discussed during an international workshop in October 2019. The vast majority (98%) of the 171 respondents considered OH approaches relevant although only 64% had implemented them. Among respondents with OH experience, 58% had encountered difficulties mainly related to a lack of knowledge, interest and support for OH approaches by funding agencies, policy-makers, communities and researchers. Silos between disciplines and health sectors were still strong at both scientific and operational levels. Benefits were reported by 94% of respondents with OH experience, including increased intellectual stimulation, stronger collaborations, higher impact and cost-efficiency of interventions. Recommendations for OH uptake included advocacy, capacity-building, dedicated funding, and higher communities' involvement. Improved research coordination by NTD networks, production of combined human-animal health NTD impact indicators, and transversal research projects on diagnostic and reservoirs were also considered essential.