Inter-sectoral coordination stressed to curb zoonotic diseases

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Kohima, July 6: With reports of six out of every 10 infectious diseases in humans being spread from animals, the World Zoonosis Day observation in Nagaland today stressed on the necessity to strengthen inter-sectoral coordination by information sharing between the Department of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services (AHVH) and Department of Health and Family Welfare.
The two government departments in the State, as physicians and veterinarians, came together for the first time to observe the Zoonosis Day. Zoonosis means a disease which can be transmitted to humans from animals.
The two departments as part of the observation while considering that successful public health intervention required the cooperation of human, animal and environmental health communities, resolved to form a committee to explore expansion into inclusion of multi-sectoral related departments.
Addressing the observation in the state capital, Director of AHVS Dr Aomangyang Walling said Zoonosis Day is observed to emphasize and bring the awareness amongst people and teach them to take right action on zoonotic diseases.
Approximately 150 zoonotic diseases are known to exist, he said while adding neither animal handlers nor the general public have reason to be alarmed or frightened but everyone should respect the potential for disease transmission and use sound preventive measures.
The day, he said, is to help raise awareness of the growing risk of zoonotic diseases, which are diseases that can be spread from animals to humans. “It’s a risk that is often overlooked, despite the fact that over 60% of infectious diseases in humans and 75% of emerging human diseases originated in animals,” he said.
In this, he said that Rabies is of particular concern to public health officials – a contagious zoonotic disease which is almost 100% fatal once symptoms appear. Even though it is 100% preventable, the World Health Organization estimates that 59,000 people die from rabies annually, mostly in developing countries and mostly from being bitten by infected dogs, he said.
“Cooperation between practitioners of animal and human medicine is important as about 200 diseases fall under the category zoonoses and it’s mostly humans that suffer. And yet the medical curriculum is not updated to keep students abreast of emerging diseases, infections and pathogens,” he said.
Quoting WHO, he said, about 75 per cent of the new diseases that have affected humans over the past 10 years have been caused by pathogens originating from an animal or from products of animal origin.
Many of these diseases have the potential to spread through various means over long distances and to become global problems but the knowledge among medical students on all emerging and new infectious diseases is poor, he pointed.
With zoonosis failing to get the priority it deserves, Dr Walling said many people do not even know that they are suffering from a zoonotic disease until the problem gets severe.
“This often proves quite dear, both in terms of economics and human and animal health,” he said while expressing hope that the two departments would come together to spread more awareness on zoontic diseases.
Director (Family Welfare) in H&FW, Dr Tokoho Chishi said zoonotic diseases have become a huge public health issue during the past decade and therefore the lack of coordination between physicians and veterinarians needs to be overcome. He also said that rigorous awareness is required on the need for regular vaccination of the pet animals and cattle to curb the spread of zoonotic diseases.
Power point presentations were made by Joint Director AHVS, Dr Simon Ao and State Surveillance Officer, IDSP, HFW, Dr John Kemp.
Chaired by Deputy Director AHVS Dr Kuokehebi Gwirie , welcome address was delivered by State Nodal Officer IDSP HFW, Dr Nyanthung Kikon while votes of thanks was tendered by Deputy Director AHVS Dr Amenla Walling. (Page News Service)