Based on recommendations from two consultative meetings held in Dakar, Senegal (2016) and Abuja, Nigeria (2017) the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) implemented a Regional One Health Coordination Mechanism (R-OHCM). This study analyzed the process, challenges and gaps in operationalizing the R-OHCM in West Africa. We utilized a scoping review to assess five dimensions of the operation of an R-OHCM based on political commitment, institutional structure, management and coordination capacity, joint planning and implementation, as well as technical and financial resources. Information was gathered through a desk review, interview of key informants, and the viewpoints of relevant stakeholders from ECOWAS region during a regional One Health technical meeting in Lomé, Togo in October 2019. It was found that political commitment at regional meetings and the countries adoption of regional frameworks were key strengths of the R-OHCM, although there are continued challenges with commitment, sustainability, and variability of awareness about One Health approach. ECOWAS formulated regional strategic documents and operationalized the One Health secretariat for strengthening coordination. The R-OHCM has technical working groups however, there is need for engagement of more specialized workforce and a harmonized reporting structure. Furthermore, inadequate focus on operational research, and weak national OHCM are identified as main gaps. Finally, the support of technical and financial partners will help to address the lack of funding which limits the implementation of the R-OHCM. West Africa has demonstrated profound effort in adopting the One Health approach at regional level but is presently deterred by challenges such as limited skilled One Health workforce, especially in the animal and environmental health sectors, and access to quality of One Health surveillance.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We acknowledge the funding from the World Bank Group through the Regional Disease Surveillance Enhancement (REDISSE) project, the Regional Office of USAID through the Leadership and Capacity Strengthening Project for West Africa, the GIZ and the European Union through the Regional Pandemic Preparedness Project for the implementation of OHCM in ECOWAS region. We are also grateful to experts and representatives from ECOWAS Member States and all other partners for their continuous support to the regional and national One Health Coordination Mechanisms in West Africa. We really appreciate their roles before and during the One Health Technical meeting in Lomé (Togo).
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