Zoonoses in Bhutan
Zoonotic diseases such as rabies and anthrax remain a major concern to both human and animal health in Bhutan, and it is anticipated that many cases go unreported. Contributing factors for the high incidence of zoonotic diseases include: a limited capacity for the control of slaughter processes, a lack of documented information on zoonoses, and a low level of general awareness on occupational health hazards, food safety and disease risks.
Furthermore, the threat the country faces from emerging diseases became clear when Bhutan reported its first highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak in February 2010.
Bhutan's One Health Initiative
Bhutan has launched a One Health initiative that envisages engagement of stakeholders at national, district and sub-district levels to obtain deeper and more sustainable political support for integrated prevention and management of diseases to mitigate the effect of high impact pathogens of medical and veterinary importance.
This multi-sectoral approach resulted in good collaboration between the major stakeholders who came together to effectively control the HPAI outbreak, with field simulation exercises being conducted jointly between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture & Forests. However, there is a need to further build on these initial steps to strengthen collaboration for effective management of rabies and other zoonoses.
This survey is using a questionnaire approach to evaluate the existing coordination and cooperation between the human and animal health sectors in responding to zoonotic disease outbreaks.
- To develop a set of criteria for an effective One Health approach to reporting, investigation and management of zoonotic disease outbreaks in Bhutan.
- To evaluate how effectively the criteria were fulfilled between 2011–2012 during the management of outbreaks of anthrax, rabies, dog bites and HPAI.
- To compare the effectiveness of collaboration to the procedures currently in place for managing avian influenza.
- To recommend policy regarding the implementation of a One Health approach for zoonotic disease control in Bhutan.
- Institutional linkages to respond to emerging or re-emerging zoonoses between the key stakeholders (human health and animal health) will be established and strengthened at all levels (national, district and sub-district).
- Clearly defined roles and responsibilities of institutions will streamline information exchange, and future responses to any emerging and re-emerging zoonoses will be more coordinated and planned.
- Early detection and control of any emerging and re-emerging zoonosis at the animal source, which would prevent it from infecting the human population.
- Deeper and more sustainable political support for the coordinated prevention of high public health and animal impact diseases at the human-animal interface.