Sri Lankan One Health Symposium for Zoonotic Disease Prevention, 8th February 2014

The very successful Sri Lankan One Health Symposium for Zoonotic Disease Prevention was held at the Bandaranaike MemoriaI International Conference Hall, Colombo on 8th February, 2014.

The symposium was organized by the College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka in collaboration with the Epidemiology Unit of the Ministry of Health, Department of Animal Production and Health of the Ministry of Livestock and Rural Community Development and Massey University, New Zealand.

This was the largest One Health forum held in Sri Lanka to date, with approximately 180 delegates representing the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Livestock and Rural Community Development, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Wildlife Conservation.

Representatives from the Veterinary Faculty of University of Peradeniya, Medical Faculty of University of Colombo and Medical Faculty of Rajarata University, plus the Medical Research Institute, Veterinary Research Institute and the Health Education Bureau also participated.

There was a strong media presence at the symposium and news from the event was presented on national television and in national newspapers.

The Chief Guest for the occasion was Dr Palitha Mahipala, Director General of Health Services, Sri Lanka. Other senior government officials included Dr Sarath Amunugama - Deputy Director Public Health, Dr Paba Palihawadana - Chief Epidemiologist, Dr Arumugam Sivasothy – Director Department of Animal Production and Health, and Dr Tharaka Prasad – Director Department of Wildlife Health Management.

From Massey University, New Zealand, Dr Joanna McKenzie attended and presented on key outcomes of the One Health Regional Training Program in Human and Animal Health Epidemiology and Biosecurity, South Asia.

The Principle Investigators presented the findings of the three collaborative investigation projects (CIPs) that were conducted on leptospirosis, rabies and brucellosis in Sri Lanka, under the Regional One Health program. Interestingly the rabies-related study of free-roaming-dog and owned-dog populations found a smaller human to dog ratio (8:1) compared with previous studies. A surprising finding of the leptospirosis study was the very high seropositive rates for leptospirosis in buffaloes, ranging from 50-100% of the buffalo in the immediate vicinity of people who had shown leptospirosis-like symptoms.

Additional presentations on laboratory diagnosis of leptospirosis, rabies and brucellosis in both human and animal species contributed to the One Health theme of the symposium.

Dr Joanna McKenzie from Massey University gave a presentation describing the establishment of a One Health Hub in each of the South Asian countries to support networking and information sharing amongst people from government and non-government organisations, universities and other institutions working in the area of One Health.

National One Health Hubs are linked to form the One Health Network–South Asia, using Hubnet, as the web-based communication and collaboration system. Hubnet facilitates networking, information and resource sharing amongst the South Asian Regional One Health community to support the detection and management of emerging and re-emerging zoonotic diseases.

The Symposium ended with the launching of the entertaining and educational documentary and telefilm on ‘Prevention of Leptospirosis’, produced by the Ministry of Health.