Bhutan National One Health Symposium

The National One Health Symposium in Bhutan was organised jointly by the National Centre for Animal Health; Department of Livestock, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests; and the Department of Public Health, Ministry of Health for three days (18th-20th November 2013) in Phuntsholing. The symposium was attended by 40 officials from Department of Livestock, Department of Public Health, Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority, Department of Medical Services, College of Natural Resources and Royal Institute of Health Sciences. During the symposium, a total of 27 presentations were made by officials/researchers from livestock and public health on zoonoses including CIP findings and the operationalisation of the One Health concept in Bhutan.

Each presentation was followed by a discussion session and drafting of specific recommendations. The symposium also had group work on identifying priority zoonotic diseases for the country and development of strategy for operationalisation of One Health concept in Bhutan. The symposium concluded with the adoption of 13 resolutions and endorsement to present them as an outcome of Bhutan’s National One Health Symposium during the South Asia Regional One Health Symposium that was held at Paro from 2nd – 6th December 2013.

Objectives of the One Health Symposium

  1. To report on the status of One Health Regional Training Program implemented by Massey University from 2010–2013.
  2. To review the progress and achievements in implementing a One Health approach to zoonotic diseases in Bhutan.
  3. To update priority zoonotic diseases in Bhutan
  4. To propose national-level outcomes and plans of action that will contribute to sustainability of the One Health approach in Bhutan.

Symposium Outcomes

The National One Health Symposium has provided a platform to understand the need for strong collaboration between the public health, livestock, wildlife and environmental sectors to work closely and share information toward prevention and control of zoonoses. The experiences shared by various stakeholders in prevention and control of avian influenza in the poultry have further recognised the need for institutionalisation of the One Health approach in Bhutan. Significantly, the Symposium saw recognition of the importance of the One Health concept from policy makers and their commitment to drive the institutionalisation of the One Health concept in the country.

Resolutions or Recommendations

The following resolutions were endorsed during the National One Health Symposium:

  1. The Symposium endorsed developing a One Health Strategic framework to operationalise the One Health concept in Bhutan.
  2. The One Health concept should be institutionalised through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests.
  3. The One Health Hub operationalised under the One Health framework should be used as one of the tools to share information on zoonoses among relevant agencies and professionals.
  4. The One Health concept must be included in the curriculum of the institutes (for example, Colleges of Natural Resources, Royal Institutes of Health Sciences) in the country to build a strong foundation and sustenance of One Health.
  5. The forum recognised the cost effectiveness of investing in the One Health approach for the prevention and control of zoonoses. Therefore the government and external donors should invest in One Health initiative activities. 
  6. The Collaborative Investigative research activities carried out within the South Asia One Health Network should be expanded to include zoonoses of national concern.
  7. The One Health concept of a collaborative approach should be implemented to investigate and respond to any zoonotic diseases outbreaks.
  8. Food safety and food-borne disease surveillance should be strengthened including how data, expertise and resources are shared between the relevant agencies.
  9. Since wildlife plays an important role as a source of emerging infectious diseases, the collaborative surveillance and research activities on wildlife zoonoses should be extended to wildlife.
  10. The forum recognised the Public Health and Livestock sector representatives to be included as members in the existing border district coordination meeting organised by the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs to discuss on human and animal health related diseases for better prevention and control program. 
  11. The National One Health Symposium should be convened annually to share information, discuss and prepare joint activities between various relevant stakeholders on zoonoses.
  12. The nationally identified priority zoonoses (Rabies, Influenza, Anthrax, Leptospirosis, Echninococcosis, Hydatidosis/Cysticercosis, etc.) should be managed through the One Health approach.
  13. Institutional linkages within and outside the country should be strengthened to build capacity on One Health Epidemiology and Bio-security.