Winners pose for a picture with their Trophy

University of Rwanda Concludes Global One Health Competition.

University of Rwanda has for the second year running held the Global Health Case Competition. Global Health Case Competition presents an opportunity for multidisciplinary students to collaboratively work together to develop innovative solutions to health challenges. Unlike the previous year when competitions were held at campus level only, this year’s competition was held at both campus and University levels. The best team from each campus was selected to compete at the University level. The University level competitions were held on March 17, 2018 at Golden Tulip Hotel in Bugusera. The students under the umbrella of the Students One Health Innovations Club (SOHIC) were from Huye, Nyagatare, Remera and Rwamagana campuses of University of Rwanda.

Rwanda started conducting Global Health Case Competitions in year 3 of the One Health Workforce project and were the pioneers among OHCEA countries. Other countries that have organized case competitions include Kenya and Ethiopia.  There is a call to have regional competitions where OHCEA partner countries would compete at a regional level.

The competition at University level was based on a case study of Q fever outbreak that started from cattle imported from a neighbouring country. This disease was affecting both domestic animals and humans. Students were required to develop innovative One Health interventions and elaborate how they would engage stakeholders in the intervention. The interventions were expected to support prevention, detection and response to the disease. Participants were also required to include timelines and budgets in their projects.

The scores were based on presentation delivery, analysis of the problem / challenge, content of recommendations, and response to questions. Each team made a 20 minute presentation of their innovations followed by 12 minutes of questions from the judges. The team of judges included representatives from Rwanda’s National Reference Lab, PREDICT project, University of Minnesota, Independent Consultant, and  Dean – University of Rwanda Faculty of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine. To ensure that there is no bias in judging students, mentors and faculty from competing campuses were excluded from the judges.

 Unlike the first case competition where the Rwanda team heavily depended on University of Minnesota for technical support, this time much of the work was dependent on local capacity that has already been built. The activities of the Global Health Case Competition were centrally coordinated by the SOHIC Activity Lead Mr. Adolphe Atuheire. This ensured that uniform messages were sent across all campuses and at the same time.  Dr. Robert Kibuuka one of the OHCEA Focal Persons noted “Basing on the experience we got while implementing our maiden Global Health Case Competitions, this time we didn’t have much support from UMN. We developed the case studies and implemented the whole range of sub-activities without getting technical support. Adolphe is now the SOHIC activity lead and he coordinates all the activities and shares all the communication. We had coordinators and faculty at different campuses who were mobilising students plus our former contestants also supported in mentorships. Former contestants were not allowed to contestant this time round. What added value was that the current contestants had trust in former contestants since they went through the same experience.”

After all teams had presented, judges gave general feedback to the participants. Judges commended all teams for the innovations they proposed noting that they had a potential for creating impact in the community. It is against this background that the one of the judges, Dr. Emil Ivan from Rwanda’s National Reference Laboratory remarked “These students will in future be better than us”.

It was however observed that most of the teams elaborated more on the theories forgetting the components of the solutions. Teams needed to have integrated solutions and link with stakeholders while considering the feasibility of the solutions. Additionally, judges observed that there was need to put the proposition in perspectives of established knowledge and procedures. Moreover, innovations need to be affordable to the level of the hospitals and farmers.

Students who participated in the competitions commended the competition as a great learning experience. Ms Nadine Mpinganzima the team leader for Nyagatare campus remarked:

“The best thing I have gained from this competition is knowledge and skills on zoonotic diseases. From my training in irrigation and drainage, I didn’t have much classroom knowledge on zoonotic diseases. I was impressed that this is a disease I knew but didn’t know how it is transmitted, or how to handle it. And it was very enlightening looking at the disease from a One Health perspective. The approach of working as a multidisciplinary team was very rewarding. I have been working as an individual but working as a team where students from various disciplines contribute their knowledge to the same problem was very impressive.”Another student Christine MUHOZA a second year agriculture student from Nyagatare campus was equally impressed with the value of this activity:

This exercise has helped me to gain deeper knowledge about health. Previously, I didn’t appreciate that other disciplines like mine have a contribution towards health. It is very valuable to work with various disciplines and I gained a lot of knowledge through that interaction. These competitions gave us a chance of interacting with and learn from other students who have ideas different from ours. One of the things I gained most from the competitions was is conducting research. Before the competitions, I didn’t know how to do research but now I am an expert. I have also experienced developing budgets.”

 The view that the Global Health Case Competition was beneficial to the students is also shared by the Dr. Kibuuka and Dr. Mushayija. They point out that this activity has enabled the 154 students that participated (at both campus and university levels) to gain skills on zoonotic diseases.  In addition to those who participated in the competitions, there were many more students who participated during the presentations but never competed. Students had an opportunity to listen to in-service professionals from government who are managing outbreaks.  Inspired by the students’ proposed approaches to handling the problem, the PREDICT Country Coordinator who was one of the judges, asked the Focal Person to identify one of the students from Nyagatare campus to go and work with him in the department so that he can continue mentoring him / her. Considering the benefits gained from the competition, the students noted that more students need to be exposed to similar experiences that would improve their knowledge on health.  

“Health is one thing that we all need to be aware of. We have very little awareness of what happens in our life. The information we get from such activities like this competition is very important but then it is exposed to very few students. There is need to put in place mechanisms to ensure that very many students are exposed to it. For example One Health course can be taught to all University students.” Noted Nadine.

Christine Muhoza also feels this experience should be exposed to more students. She proposes that the competing students should also include graduate students.

“One area for improvement is they should have masters students included so that they work with under graduates. Also, there is need to find a way of involving Secondary and primary students in One Health approach”.

Participating students and their mentors exhibited a very high level of commitment and dedication to the Global Health Case Competition. When asked what motivated students participation in the competition, Dr. Mushayija who was one of the mentors had this to say:

“Basing on activities OHCEA has been implementing, there is an existing view by students that whatever activities OHCEA supports are beneficial to the students. Added to this, students were motivated by the prestige of getting the trophy on top of the medals and bags. The possibility of competing at a regional level is also a big motivation for students to participate dedicatedly. Moreover, there is an opportunity of students getting out of their campuses and networking with their counterparts from other campuses or countries.”

The Focal Person acknowledged that despite the huge success of this year’s Global Health Case Competition, there were some areas that needs improvement. He proposes that development of the cases to be used during the competition, should involve government workers who are on the ground and have real hands on experience in handling health threats.  Additionally, he proposes video recording of the students’ presentations and judges’ feedback which would be used for training and mentoring students during subsequent competitions. He singled out the small budget as a limitation against involvement of many faculty especially in mentoring students.

Remera campus emerged winners of the competition followed by Nyagatare campus. The winning team received a trophy plus bags for all the team members. While handing over the trophy, Dean Martin Ntawubizi from University of Rwanda School of Animal Sciences and Veterinary Medicine thanked everyone for the hard work that enabled conducting the competitions successfully. He observed that all students who competed were winners noting that all teams scored above 71%. Rwamagana campus was given special recognition for making a great performance despite being very young in terms of participation in OHCEA / One Health Workforce activities. All participating students from the 4 campuses were awarded medals.

Winning teams pose with mentors and facilitators after receiving their trophies

Ethiopia Intensify Capacity Building Efforts for Risk Analysis

Training for risk analysis is a flagship program in Ethiopia under the One Health Workforce project. To date, …………have been trained in the country addressing a need that has been identified and expressed by the Government of Ethiopia. In this period, another set of in-service professionals, including academics were trained at Jimma University and Mekelle University to contribute to the growing pool of professionals competent in risk analysis.

Jimma University conducts Risk analysis training for professionals from different government institutions

Jimma University, Ethiopia conducted a risk analysis training workshop for twenty seven (27) public sector professionals. These included professionals from government sector departments and eight academic staff from Faculty of Public Health and School of Veterinary Medicine (four from each).

The workshop conducted December 22nd -26th  at Dololo Hotel, aimed at training people working in the university and government sector in One Health risk analysis. Risk Analysis is a tool used by intergovernmental organizations (such as WHO, OIE and FAO) to assess disease risk in a cost-effective manner.

The training was organised to ensure that academic staff and government sector professionals attending this training acquired the knowledge and tools in risk management and risk communication to be able to:

  1. Describe the concepts and framework of risk analysis applied to zoonotic diseases and food safety
  2. Identify the roles and interactions among the risk assessors, risk managers and stakeholders
  3. Apply risk prioritization tools to identify the priorities in zoonotic diseases and food safety in the country or region
  4. Apply rapid risk assessment tools for the importation of live animals, biological and agricultural products
  5. Design a surveillance and inspection program in zoonotic diseases and food safety in the country or region
  6. Communicate effectively risk analysis with the stakeholders

The beneficiary institutions included: Jimma University School of Veterinary Medicine, Jimma University Food Science and Postharvest Technology, Jimma University Crop Protection, Jimma University Natural Resource Management, Jimma University Animal Science, Jimma University Faculty of Public Health, Environment and Forestry and Climatic Change Center, Shenen Gibe Hospital, Jimma Town Food Security and Job Creation, Jimma Referral Hospital, Healthcare Institutions, Red Cross, Disaster Prevention and Preparedness, Livestock & Fishery Development from  Jimma zone.

In his opening remarks, Prof. Kifle Weldemichael, School of Public Health OHCEA Focal Person, emphasized the importance of connecting academia and sector offices in controlling outbreaks and risks. He therefore called on participants to participate fully and actively in the training so as to derive the maximum benefit from it and realize the training objectives.

Dr. Dechassa Tegegne briefly explained the one health concept and historical developments. He also took participants through the OHCEA vision and mission and partner countries and major activities conducted in Ethiopia.

Some of the participants mentioned that they were involved in the management of Anthrax, rabies and diarrheal disease outbreaks. The participants also mentioned that lack of integration and discipline-based complexity were the major challenges they faced during the management of one health risks.

A cross section of the participants during one of the sessions

Case scenarios were used as a training tool. Chicken market as source of zoonotic infection in Addis Ababa was one of them. Using this case scenario, participants were able to identify potential stakeholders and classify them based on their influence and importance.

Participants were also taken through risk management framework, risk management steps and risk prioritization in food safety and they were trained in how to prioritize risk and how to use risk prioritization tools (decision trees and decision matrix) to rank the pathogens in food.

One of the most interesting presentations demonstrated the use of risk ranger software in Microsoft excel. 

Some important tools for risk estimation and assessment currently in use for animal diseases and food safety were also discussed. Some highlights of this session are:

  • Use of WHO food borne tool
  • Risk prioritization in Zoonotic Diseases in Ethiopia
  • Steps of the Risk Assessment
  • Risk-based surveillance and inspection
  • Use of rapid tools for import-export

Risk communication issues in the context of OIE and FAO (food safety) were also addressed. 

Towards the end of the workshop, participants were briefly exposed to the concepts of collaboration and partnership. The presentation by Dr. Dechassa Tegegne (OHCEA Vet Medicine Focal Person) emphasized that the platform created in the workshop needs to be sustained in the future. Trainees identified priority project areas and drafted concept notes in the area of zoonotic diseases, food safety and environmental health.

Project I team on Zoonotic diseases selected the area of rabies cases and its impact in Jimma town. The team set out to; 1) identify prevalence of rabies in Jimma town, 2) assess socio-economic impact of rabies in Jimma town, 3) assess KAP of inhabitants towards rabies prevention and control in Jimma town, 4) prevent and control rabies based on research findings.

Teams discuss their projects in their respective groups

The Project II team on Food safety focused on assessment of bacteriological and chemical quality of major food items from farm to fork. This team set out to; 1) determine the bacteriological quality of major food items, 2) determine the chemical quality of major food items, 3) identify sources of food contamination, 4) propose appropriate intervention based on research findings.

The team working on Project III which is on Environmental Health, focused on integrated waste management for sustainable green city development, using the case of Jimma town. They set out to; 1) develop integrated solid waste management system for Jimma town, 2) develop composting plant, 3) enhance the capacity of microenterprises engaged in waste management in Jimma town, 4) apply waste conversion technologies such as biogas production, biochar, etc. 5) increase the awareness of inhabitants of Jimma town on waste management

All the participants were awarded certificates of attendance and participation.  

A group photo of the participants and their facilitators

Mekelle University Conducts Training in Risk Analysis for professionals in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia

Mekelle University provided a training on Risk Analysis from December 28/2017 to January 1/2018. Thirty seven (37) professionals from Mekelle University College of Health Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Tigray Agricultural and Rural Development Bureau, Tigray Health Bureau, Mekelle Zonal Health Office, Tigray Health Research Institute, Veterinary Drugs and Feed Control Authority, Tigray Science and Technology Bureau, Tigray Agricultural Research Institute, Abergele International Abattoir and Mekelle Zone Agriculture Bureau participated.  The Training was facilitated by faculty of Mekelle University namely   Dr. Yohannes Tekle (College of Veterinary medicine) and Dejen Yemane (College of Health Sciences) who participated in the Risk Analysis module development and Training of Trainers conducted earlier. From the training, participants gained knowledge and skill of one health, risk assessment, risk management and risk analysis principles and applications.

 Some of the trainees during the training session

Trainees pose for a group photo after the training


A Student’s account of Experiences from the Frontlines of the Rift Valley Fever Outbreak Investigation in Kabale District, Uganda

On 4 March 2016 Uganda’s first case of Rift Valley Fever (RVF) was reported in the Kabale District, about 400 km southwest of Kampala. Although only one other case has been confirmed in Kabale, RVF is a viral disease that can be easily transmitted through infected mosquitoes or contact with infected animals. Since 4 March 2016, rapid response teams have been deployed by the Ministry of Health to respond to the outbreak. Six One Health Student Club members at Makerere University were chosen to join the rapid response team and have been at the frontlines of the outbreak since 21/03/2016 to 24/03/2016.The One Health students have been trained to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease outbreaks by the One Health Central and Eastern Africa network with the support of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s One Health Workforce project. Upon selection, the Ministry of Health provided additional training to the students as part of its operational response.

On March 18th, 14 days since the first outbreak, students were called to urgently convene at 2pm to leave for Kabale at 6pm. Tonny Tindyebwa a member of the One Health Students’ Club, based at Makerere University School of Public Health, is one of the students who were part of this investigation. In this post, he shares his experiences.

The morning after we arrived, we had an early morning meeting with the District Task Force, followed by identification of activities to be done. These included mainly social mobilization and surveillance. Multi-sectoral teams were then constituted and assigned duties. We also created a communication platform using WhatsApp.

The next day, Tuesday 22nd we identified new cases including a truck driver from Burundi. Tis case caused a lot of panic among residents at the border who mistook the symptoms for those of Marburg. 

The rest of our time as part of the investigation team, we mainly took part in case tracking, sample collection, social mobilization, report writing, case management and records review. Illegal structures like slaughter houses/places were also visited and closed, while abattoirs were also inspected.

In the course of executing this assignment, I realized that there are areas that could be improved in future, like the slow response on delivery of the supplies such as PPE which scared medical workers on attending to cases, delay of Laboratory results of the samples collected still put the DTF members in anxiety, slow response of the Alert desk team to requests.

There was also late dispatch of teams to the field, absence of key district political leaders and inadequate transportation facilities like cars, making it problematic for teams to get to the field in time

There were also challenges with some media houses misinforming communities on the progress of the outbreak investigation, treating suspected cases who had died as confirmed cases.

There are some good practices that I think can be used as lessons and strengthened for future outbreaks. For instance, the population exhibited eagerness to report any suspects basing on signs and symptoms of the disease they had, to the extent that some people just referred themselves to the health workers.

Social mobilization was done in creative ways, using currently popular technologies as well as reaching out to specific populations and communities like schools and training institutions.

Key populations we worked with like meat sellers were very responsive in providing information about their counterparts who had exhibited signs and symptoms of RVF.

Participants were taken through the different components of risk management and risk prioritization, risk-based inspection and surveillance and rapid assessments, risk communication and project management.

Kenya Trains In-service Trainers for Risk Analysis

In the recent past, Kenya has had outbreaks of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases like Rift Valley Fever (RVF), Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) and common endemic diseases like rabies and anthrax. This calls for a workforce that is able to identify, manage, prevent and communicate risk using the One Health approach. Risk analysis training for government officers responsible for disease control and prevention will build capacity for prevention, detection and response to public health threats. 

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Mekelle Faculty During Orientation

Mekelle University Faculty Orientated in One Health Curriculum Integration

The integration of One Health core competence into existing courses of both undergraduate and postgraduate programs was conducted in Year III of One Health Workforce project. During the integration, only a small number of staff participated while many others who deliver the same courses were not able to attend.  It was however considered worth bringing all faculty who deliver integrated courses to have the same understanding of One Health core competencies.  In Year 4, all faculty involved in the delivery of the courses were oriented to sustain OH and to reach a wide OH future generation. 

The objectives of the orientation were; 1) to build the capacity of the faculty to ensure the delivery of the integrated courses, 2) to have common understanding among faculty about delivery of OH integrated courses and sustain OH in the teaching and learning processes in the university, 3) to support the institutionalization and sustainability of OH training in the system.

All the 36 staff who attended the orientation briefly presented their own courses integrated with OH core competencies. Below is the list of courses integrated with OH core competencies:

  1. Advanced Ecology course beneficiaries a staff who delivers the course and PG environmental health students.
  2. Health System Management(Public Health Officers course syllabus) – beneficiary UG and faculties who delivers the courses
  3. Principles of Health Service Management- beneficiary PG students and faculties who delivers the courses
  4. Epidemiology I for public health students beneficiary UG students and faculties who delivers the courses
  5. Veterinary Public Health- beneficiary UG veterinary students and faculties who delivers the courses
  6. Zoonotic and emerging diseases- beneficiary PG veterinary students and faculties who delivers the courses
  7. Veterinary epidemiology and economics- beneficiary PG veterinary students and faculties who delivers the courses

The discussion was very lively and many questions was raised and addressed by focal persons. Each course with OH competencies integrated was presented by the course custodians and the mode of delivery briefly discussed. Participants raised a lot of concerns (what effort was being done at ministry level?, does the integration affect load/credit and time of the course?, How can we integrate OH with community based education, does OH core competency need specialization?

The Jimma University OHCEA Focal Persons agreed to continue orientating staff on the same page in integrated course delivery

  • Interest of the staff was highly rewarding to in accepting the integrated courses and in OH concept in making difference in our ecosystem.
  • It was agreed that each department head and the dean take responsibility to follow up the implementation of the integrated courses.

Common understanding was developed about those specific courses integrated by OH core competency and their mode of delivery was thoroughly discussed.

The Focal Persons promised faculty to share the OH modules to use for further reference.

Mekelle University conducted a one-day workshop to orient faculty of the College of Health Sciences and College of Veterinary Medicine in One Health curriculum integration. The orientation workshop conducted December 17th 2017, is the continuation of the training of trainers (ToT) training in One Health curriculum integration held at Wukro in August, 2017. Thirty two (32) faculty from veterinary medicine, environmental health, Public health, nursing, pharmacy, medicine and midwifery participated, working together on various One Health-related curricula to develop content that can enable them train students that can solve the challenges at the human-animal and environment interfaces. The workshop was facilitated by Dr. Getachew Redae from Environmental Health, Dr. Abreha Tesfay and Berihun Afera from College of Veterinary Medicine.

Workshop participants during the orientation of faculty in One Health Curriculum Integration

Photo Credit: Berihun Afera



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