Belize City, Belize, October 26, 2022 (PAHO) – To improve preparedness, response, and increase surveillance capabilities, all sectors and disciplines responsible for health came together to develop a multisectoral and collaborative approach. In collaboration with the Government of Belize and other ministries, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and funding support from the European Union (EU) launched the National One Health Platform.
“This ‘One Health’ approach allows us to address the full spectrum of disease control – from prevention to detection, preparedness, response, and management and contribute to global health security,” said Dr. Noreen Jack, PAHO/WHO Representative in Belize. “With the lesson learned from COVID-19, the ‘One Health’ approach is gaining more importance. The platform will provide timely updates on health-related issues from the collaborating partners who play a critical role in surveillance and response to emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases that affect our shared environment.”
According to the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), worldwide, 60 percent of pathogens that cause human diseases originate from domestic animals or wildlife, and more than 20 percent of global animal production losses are linked to animal diseases. The ‘One Health’ approach recognizes the interconnection between human, animal, plant, and environmental health to improve the prevention and preparedness of current and emerging health threats in the country.
These threats include antimicrobial resistance (AMR), zoonotic diseases, food safety and security, vector-borne diseases, and environmental contamination, among others. By promoting increased collaboration, communication, and coordination across all sectors, the ‘One Health’ approach can achieve the best health outcomes for humans, animals, and plants in shared ecosystems and various enabling environments.
“From an agricultural perspective, increasing surveillance of infectious diseases and other threats that affect the human, animal, and environment in the country of Belize is of critical importance,” Hon. Abelardo Mai, Minister of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security & Enterprise. “Today, we do not stand alone. We stand as a group. We stand collaborating with different ministries and departments at the local and regional level.”
The Platform is a collaborative and trans-disciplinary site to familiarize the public with the concept of ‘One Health’ and to act as an information-sharing platform that will strengthen the overall health system of Belize. Along with PAHO/WHO, the EU, and the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW), the sectors including the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise, the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Climate Change, and Disaster Risk Management, the National Meteorological Service of Belize, the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA), the Belize Vector Ecology Center (BVEC), and the Department of the Environment (DoE) came together as stakeholders to envision and institute this collaborative initiative.
“The approach recognizes that population health is not merely a product from the Ministry of Health, but largely determined by policies that guide actions beyond the health sector,” said Hon. Kevin Bernard, Minister of MoHW. “This ‘Health in All Policies’ fit perfectly into the ‘One Health’ initiative. We are now in an era where globally it is recognized that enabling environments need to be created for Health to emerge. Our focus is not only on health but also on wellness when we control the environment and social risks.”
To ensure and commit to the ‘One Health’ approach, a Memorandum of Understanding, known as the Quadripartite Collaboration, between the MoHW, the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security & Enterprise, and BAHA was signed. With Belize now implementing this ‘One Health’ approach, the country will be able to better understand and recognize the interdependence and strengthen cooperation to sustainably balance and optimize animal, human, and environmental health.
Link to the platform: https://onehealth.gov.bz/