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Strengthening public health systems through a One Health approach: Joint mission by RKI and FLI to Nigeria (December 2021)

In early December 2021 the anthropologists at ZIG Geschäftsstelle where part of a joint mission to Nigeria with two colleagues from the Friedrich Loeffler Institute (FLI). The trip was part of the GHPP project BCHW (“Burden of COVID-19 among Health Care Workers – Assessing Infection, Risk Factors, Vaccine Coverage and Effectiveness, Working Experiences and One-Health Implications: a Mixed Methodology, Multisite International Study”) which is divided into four different research modules. More specifically for module 4 “Investigating human-animal-environment interactions under the lens of COVID-19 and One Health approaches in Nigeria, Côte d'Ivoire and Republic Democratic of Congo“. The module is jointly implemented by RKI and FLI and it aims at strengthening Public Health Systems through a One Health approach (comprising public health, veterinary, ecology, and anthropology). Putting theory into practice by the example of SARS-CoV-2. This project responds to the need of enhancing the existing molecular epidemiology, One Health, and anthropological capacities of the selected countries.

Photo from outside the Nigerian village where the veterinarians showed scientists from RKI and FLI how they set traps for rodents. © ZIG Geschäftsstelle/RKIPhoto from outside the Nigerian village where the veterinarians showed scientists from RKI and FLI how they set traps for rodents. © ZIG Geschäftsstelle/RKI

For two weeks the team from RKI and FLI met with project partners from the Nigerian Centre of Disease Control (NCDC) in Abuja and the Nigerian Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI) in Vom. They first hold a workshop at NVRI in Vom where they had enthusiastic discussions to learn more about each other’s sciences (veterinary, anthropology, and human medicine/public health), as well as presentations on endemic diseases and surveillance strategies. Theory was put into practice with some field trips to a village to witness trapping strategies and observe domestic interfaces and to a zoo where lives a big bat colony to observe wildlife-human interactions. In Abuja the scientists from RKI and FLI visited the national reference laboratory and other relevant in-country stakeholders like the National One Health Secretariat and the German Agency for international Collaboration (GIZ). They visited as well two local markets, live animal markets and abattoirs always with the aim of getting preliminary insights on human-animal-environment entanglements. These meetings and practical exercises served to advance work of the project and the broader One Health approach and moreover to formulate future collaborative research interests and needs. It also stimulated the building up of the team that will work together in 2022 conducting fieldwork jointly in Nigeria.

Date: 28.01.2022