SEARCA hosts national forum on One Health innovations to combat COVID-19

  • By Leah Lyn D. Domingo
  • 25 August 2020

The emerging challenges in the agricultural and health sectors in the midst of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and how One Health/EcoHealth approach as a concept could be better wielded in managing the related risks will be discussed at the "National Forum on One Health Innovations to Mitigate Impacts of COVID-19" hosted by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) through the SEARCA Online Learning and Virtual Engagement (SOLVE) platform on 26 August 2020.

The forum is jointly organized by SEARCA; the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization- Regional Centre for Public Health Hospital Administration, Environmental and Occupational Health (SEAMEO TROPMED-Philippines); Philippine Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Animal Industry (DA-BAI), and the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) of the Philippines.

"In order to properly understand and therefore manage the risks brought about by COVID-19, it is important to look at the pandemic as part of a wider system, which includes, human, animal, and environmental health," said Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, SEARCA Director.

According to the organizers, "One Health/ EcoHealth is a holistic approach to understanding health that integrates various factors concerning human, animals, and the environment interface. Given that most of the challenges in the pandemic tend to be interrelated, this approach provides for inclusivity among humans, animals, and the environment that would be essential in coming up with strategic solutions and recommendations in managing the impacts and risks of COVID-19."

Representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO), World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and DA will speak on the COVID-19 risks and challenges to human health, animal health, and the environment. They will highlight the theory and principles of One Health/EcoHealth approach and its current applications and potential in understanding the impacts of COVID-19 particularly to the farmers and farming families and communities.

The forum will also enable experts from the Department of Science and Technology- Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD), DOST-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), University of the Philippines (UP) Manila-College of Public Health, SEAMEO TROPMED-Philippines, SEARCA, and UP Los Baños-School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM) to share their outlook on One Health/EcoHealth applications in understanding COVID-19 impacts on human health, the environment, and agriculture. They will present analyses of the interface between the health and agricultural impacts of COVID-19 to identify priority areas and process for immediate and long-term interventions.

"There are many social services that are important for the farmers and farming families affected because of the prioritization of COVID-19. While this is of course very important, the forum needs to raise such plight of the farming communities as well," said Dr. Rico C. Ancog, SEARCA Operations Consultant for Emerging Innovation for Growth and UPLB-SESAM faculty member.

Dr. Gregorio added that the forum will identify priority interventions and strategies across Agricultural and Health Policy Innovations to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 to the farmers and farming families.

Expected to join the forum are representatives from national and local governments, including DA; DOST-PCHRD; DOST-PCAARRD; Department of Health (DOH); and nongovernmental organizations engaged in human, animal, and environment health. Other participants are faculty members, researchers, and staff of state colleges and universities and other higher education institutions; as well as agriculture and industry players, including farm owners and managers, and farmers organizations.