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World NTD Day 2022: Implementing the One Health approach in schools for the prevention and control of NTDs

NTDs are a diverse group of conditions prevalent in tropical areas which mainly affect populations without safe water and adequate sanitation and in close contact with infectious vectors and domestic animals and livestock. The World Health Organization recommends an integrated approach to overcome global impact of NTDs through five strategies: (1) preventive chemotherapy (deworming); (2) innovative and intensified disease management; (3) vector ecology and management; (4) provision of safe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH); and (5) veterinary public health services. Recognizing the human-animal-environment interface in the transmission of infectious diseases, the One Health approach has been increasingly applied for the prevention and control of NTDs. One Health is defined by the WHO as an approach in designing and implementing policies, programs, policies, and research which takes into consideration different sectors to achieve improved health outcomes. The One Health approach recognizes the interface of humans, animals, and the environment in the transmission, prevention, and control of infectious diseases, such as NTDs.

Implementing a One Health approach entails intersectoral collaboration, capacity development, effective and efficient management and leadership, supportive policies, and a monitoring system. The education sector has a pivotal role in bringing together and aligning efforts of relevant sectors in One Health. As such, schools serve as an ideal setting to implement the One Health approach with its strategic position in strengthening health education, providing a venue for multiple sectors to work together, and having an established system for implementation of policies and programs.

GIZ, through the Regional Fit for School Programme, supports the implementation of tangible actions in schools that are aligned with the One Health concept. The programme provides technical support to governments and ministries to (1) work together effectively across different sectors, (2) develop and implement comprehensive and supportive policy frameworks, (3) develop and implement monitoring and recognition systems to trigger action, and (4) build capacity for practical implementation and management across different levels of organizations.

Collaboration across sectors such as health, education, and nutrition is essential in the prevention and control of NTDs. The implementation of the One Health approach in schools provides a nexus to promote collaboration across multiple sectors and later on draw out implementation lessons for possible scale-up beyond the education setting.

In celebration of World NTD day this January 30, learn why schools are an ideal setting for the implementation of the One Health Approach to prevent and control NTDs and other infectious diseases: