Mali | Ensuring multisectoral coordination in the fight against rabies

Livestock production accounts for 12 percent of Mali’s gross domestic product and is a key contributor to the Malian economy. However, zoonotic transboundary diseases such as contagious bovine pleuropneumonia, peste des petits ruminants, pasteurellosis, Newcastle disease, foot-and-mouth disease and lumpy skin disease hinder the development of the livestock sector. Mali is situated in an extremely high-risk area for the transmission of various emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases due to cross-border trade and population movements. In addition, due to the country’s agricultural tradition, the use of draught animals and the keeping of pets, humans are exposed to several zoonoses.  

During the Joint External Evaluation (JEE) of the International Health Regulations in Mali in 2017, it was strongly recommended that the country should have a functional and sustainable multisectoral coordination mechanism involving all stakeholders from the human, animal and environmental health sectors to control health threats. In response, the decree establishing the creation, responsibilities and functioning of the National One Health Platform in Mali was signed by the Prime Minister in April 2018.

In line with this approach of multisectoral collaboration in the fight against zoonoses, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) in Mali supported the adoption of the National Rabies Control Programme in Mali (2019–2023) in September 2018, based on the One Health approach. This programme sets a five-year time frame to control and eradicate rabies by 2030, with the commitment of key partners from the ministries of livestock, health, environment, agriculture and civil society, as well as technical and financial partners from the One Health Tripartite.

To strengthen and advance this strategy, FAO ECTAD has been working with Mali’s Veterinary Services to propose models for targeted mass vaccination of dogs against rabies in 2020. These models contribute to the reduction of animal-to-human transmission and provide a coherent, efficient and sustainable strategy to combat the disease at its animal source.

Referring to this initiative, Dr Lassina Ouattara, FAO ECTAD Country Team Leader in Mali emphasized that “The proposal of targeted mass vaccination models for rabies vaccination of dogs is a significant step and contribution to the operationalization of the National Rabies Control Programme in Mali (2019–2023) as it will enable the National Directorate of Veterinary Services (NDVS) to implement the rabies control strategy whilst ensuring governance, follow-up and evaluation and resource mobilization.”

Mali is committed to the Global Strategic Plan to Prevent Human Deaths from Dog-Transmitted Rabies by 2030. This proposal is therefore a timely contribution to the achievement of the objectives set out in the five-year programme (2019–2023) and will help the country achieve 70 percent dog vaccination coverage rate and ensure multisectoral One Health coordination in the fight against rabies. “Rabies eradication is achievable. Models of targeted mass vaccination of dogs against rabies contribute to this goal with effective technical tools,” said Dr Ouattara.

To further develop this One Health approach, field data is also being collected through interviews with the main actors in the fight against rabies in Mali, including NDVS, the Central Veterinary Laboratory, the National Animal Health Support Centre, private veterinarians, public health doctors and other civil society actors.

The One Health Approach in Mali

Three organizations, namely the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and FAO adopted the One Health Strategy for the efficient monitoring and response to zoonoses in 2008.

The One Health approach, supported by FAO, brings real socio-economic added value as it contributes to reducing the costs of interventions by pooling human, material and financial resources and by strengthening coordination mechanisms to control zoonotic diseases. At the national level, experts in public, animal, environmental and agricultural health, with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Global Health Security Programme (GHSA) and the Emerging Pandemic Threats Programme (EPT-2) and under the auspices of their respective ministries, have been working since the signing of the Tripartite agreement in 2010 to implement this strategy in Mali. 

Source : Fao