OneHealth: Towards a Proactive Global Public Health Regime

Moderator:
Mr Michael Rampedi
Panellists:
Dr Ali Halajian
Dr Krpasha Govindasamy
Mr Aqil Jeenah
Prof Sabiha Essack

Dr Ali Halajian

Dr Ali Halajian is a senior researcher at the University of Limpopo, DST-NRF SARChI chair in Ecosystem Health. He has a prolific research output with over 80 peer-reviewed publications and around 50 congress presentations! He also worked as the Director of Ghazal Veterinary Pharmacy in Iran, from 2004-2009, followed by a Post-doctoral fellowship with the University of Limpopo, prior to his appointment as a senior researcher. With a DVM degree from Islamic Azad University, he also holds a PhD in Veterinary Parasitology from the same university. His research interests spans from wildlife parasitology and zoonotic diseases, to vector-borne pathogens and public health.  Having enjoyed a fair deal of international research visits to the Czech Republic, Italy, and Bulgaria, he is also actively involved as a member of different parasitological and zoological societies in South Africa as well as internationally. He serves on the editorial board of different international journals. He has an impeccable contribution to the field of parasitology and science as a whole, having described 12 new species of parasites from different hosts! In 2015, the University of Limpopo recognized him as the Best Overall Upcoming Researcher. His myriad research interests and pertinent experience makes him an astute scholar on One Health issues.

Dr Krpasha Govindasamy

Dr K. Govindasamy qualified as a veterinarian with a BVSc in 2005.  She was awarded a fellowship to participate in the South African Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training program in 2010, and obtained her MPH in 2013.  She has been working as the Chief State Veterinarian: Epidemiology for Gauteng Province Veterinary Services (GDARD), since 2014.  During this time, she has functioned as the One Health Management Team lead for the province and served as president to the Southern African Society for Veterinary Preventative Medicine (SASVEPM).  She is currently completing her PhD through the Department of Tropical Diseases and Veterinary Medicine at the Veterinary Faculty of the University of Pretoria.  Her interests range from: epidemiology of diseases at the human-animal-ecosystem-technology interface, data science, systems thinking and post normal science to project management, psychology, theology and her creatures, Bernie, Jilly Storm and David.  Her favorite pathogens are currently Brucella bacteria and Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza viruses.

Mr Aqil Jeenah

Aqil Jeenah is an undergraduate student pursuing his veterinary science degree at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. Born to a medical doctor and an agriculturist, from early in his studies he was able to connect these two fields. The One Health concept, which was near its beginning took a firm interest within him. Sitting at a dinner table would allow him to view and contribute thoughts on both fields that his parents work in.

Coming from Africa, with a mother working in the primary human health care systems, allowed him to view the multiple issues that exist. The lack of a strong surveillance system for infectious and zoonotic diseases, and a small health force stretched to its limit showed the fatal flaws in having a one-dimensional view to health. Currently Aqil works with local communities, running pilot projects on having a untied health force of veterinary science and medical students providing free primary health care.

Aqil has now become a leading veterinary student in the One Health field and regularly gives lectures and workshops on a wide ranging topics from climate change to inter-professional education. He views his final job as working in rural communities across the developing world, working with communities to create a better health system for humans, animals and the environment.

Mr Michael Rampedi

A research assistant of the DST-NRF SARChI Chair in Ecosystem Health from the Department of Biodiversity (UL), Michael Rampedi relishes participation in a number of projects. Having completed a BSc-Honors degree in Zoology and currently studying towards an MSc degree in genetics with the UFS, he cherishes opportunities to learn more on multiple factors influencing the human-wildlife disease interface. Hence, the keen interest in One Health issues. Although a novice in this field, his interest is stimulated by his past involvement in biodiversity conservation issues with the Department of Environmental Affairs and exposure to livestock projects at the Agricultural Research Council’s Animal Genetics unit. Apart from the aquatic ecosystem health work of the research chair, he currently works on roadkill samples alongside his mentor, Dr Ali Halajian, in search of parasites of zoonotic importance.  The idea to convene a One Health plenary session stems from the growing global threats of epidemics and the need for realization of a collective sense of responsibility towards a proactive public health regime.

Prof Sabiha Essack

Sabiha Essack, Professor in Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), is the South African Research Chair in Antibiotic Resistance and One Health. Professor Essack serves as expert consultant on antimicrobial resistance to the World Health Organization in Geneva as well as the WHO Regional Office for Africa.  She is Vice Chairperson South African Ministerial Advisory Committee on Antimicrobial Resistance, founder and co-chair of the South African Chapter of the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics (APUA), member of the FIP Working Group on Antimicrobial Resistance and member of the Global Respiratory Infections Partnership (GRIP). She began her professional career with the B. Pharm degree in 1988 and practiced as a hospital pharmacist in the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health before returning to the University of Durban-Westville in 1992 to pursue the M. Pharm and PhD degrees.  As an NRF C-rated researcher, she has established the Antimicrobial Research Unit at UKZN and has secured several research grants for Essential National Health Research, from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), MRC and the NRF investigating strategies for the prevention and containment of antibiotic resistance.

Scientific literature infers that more than 60 percent of human diseases are of animal origin. These zoonotic diseases are transferred from animals to humans through an enabling third factor, i.e., the environment. Agriculture exists throughout the world, and is not only just a source of food or livelihood, but a major driver of the economy. However, it is also an important human-animal interface and presents an inevitable challenge to public health. Given the exponential population growth, more wildlife habit is lost to give way to agricultural expansion and human settlement. As a result, the contact between wildlife and humans is also becoming more frequent, along with the disruption of ecosystem integrity and services. Coupled with climate change, this gloomy picture is a perfect storm for sporadic disease outbreaks and the (re)emergence of epidemics. Although scientific research has waged an impressive war against diseases, the human race is unwittingly falling to its sword through the abuse of antimicrobial drugs, pesticides and anthelminthic drugs. This plenary discussion will inform the audience about a pertinent global initiative termed ‘One Health’, endorsed by the World Health Organization as an important strategy in combating health threats such as antimicrobial resistance and zoonotic diseases.

2018-11-14T18:44:41+00:00