Kerala's One Health Initiative: A Holistic Approach to Disease Control

Image of Kerala's One Health Initiative: A Holistic Approach to Disease Control - Kerala to introduce SOPs under One Health initiative
Kerala's One Health Initiative: A Holistic Approach to Disease Control[Image Source: ANI News ]

The Kerala Health Department is poised to introduce meticulously crafted standard operating procedures (SOPs) aimed at investigating and controlling the outbreak of at least eight infectious diseases as part of its pioneering One Health initiative. This initiative heralds a significant milestone in India as it marks the inaugural development of such comprehensive guidelines at the state level under the One Health platform. The primary objective of these SOPs is to institute an early disease surveillance, prevention, and control mechanism across districts.

Diseases Addressed in the One Health Initiative:

The SOPs encompass a spectrum of diseases and disease conditions, including:

  • Water-borne diseases such as acute diarrhoeal diseases, Hepatitis A and E
  • Food-borne infections
  • Mosquito-borne diseases like dengue, chikungunya, and Zika
  • Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (comprising Japanese encephalitis and West Nile fever)
  • Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD)
  • Nipah virus infection
  • Leptospirosis
  • Avian influenza

These guidelines were meticulously formulated during a two-day collaborative outbreak investigation planning workshop organized by the Centre for One Health, Kerala.

Implementation of the One Health Project:

The One Health project is presently underway as part of the World Bank-supported Rebuild Kerala initiative in four districts of the state: Alappuzha, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, and Idukki. The project endeavors to establish a community-based disease surveillance network wherein trained One Health volunteers can promptly report unusual events or animal/bird deaths in their vicinity. This proactive approach facilitates early warnings and enables timely implementation of preventive or control measures. As part of this initiative, a substantial 2.5 lakh volunteers (56 in every ward) have already undergone training in these four districts.

Integration of the One Health Project with Aardram Mission:

Recognizing the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health, One Health has been integrated as a pivotal component of the second phase of Kerala's Aardram Mission. This mission underscores the imperative for coordinated efforts across various departments including Health, Animal Husbandry, Forest, Food Safety, Agriculture, and Fisheries to combat the escalating incidence of zoonotic disease outbreaks.

Additional Insights:

The One Health approach acknowledges the intimate nexus between human health, animal health, and the environment. It advocates for collaborative endeavors across diverse disciplines at local, national, and global levels to achieve optimal health outcomes for people, animals, and the environment.

Kerala has grappled with numerous zoonotic disease outbreaks in recent years, notably Nipah virus infections in 2018 and 2019, and avian influenza (H5N8) in 2021.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been at the forefront of promoting the One Health approach as a pivotal strategy for preventing and managing zoonotic diseases, which account for over 60% of all infectious diseases in humans.

India initiated its National One Health Framework in 2021 to foster collaboration and coordination among diverse sectors for the prevention, detection, and response to public health threats.

By embracing a collaborative, multi-sectoral approach, Kerala endeavors to bolster early disease detection, prevention, and control, thereby fortifying public health defenses.

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