The One Health Workforce (OHW)
In 2014, the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) was launched to “accelerate progress towards a world safe and secure from global health threats posed by infectious disease.” A central component of the GHSA strategy is building the capacity of the global health workforce to prevent, detect, and respond to emerging infectious diseases. Beyond the concentrated attention in the GHSA Action Package dedicated to workforce development, there are milestones throughout the 11 Action Packages which aim to equip a new, transformed, transdisciplinary workforce with the tools and capacities needed for quick detection, action and collaboration across sectors to prevent and stop disease where it starts.
The USAID One Health Workforce (OHW) Project, also launched in 2014, aims to achieve such a workforce transformation. Focusing on two infectious disease hot spot regions, Central and Eastern Africa and Southeast Asia, OHW strengthens training and educational programs in universities to create a skilled workforce in using a transdisciplinary approach known as One Health. The One Health approach brings together disciplines such as medicine, veterinary medicine, public health, nursing, ecology to work together to more effectively address emerging challenges at the interface of animals, humans and the environment. Emerging infectious diseases are one of the most pressing of such challenges.
Recent and on-going threats around the world have showcased a critical need for health workers that are prepared to manage diseases that cross human, animal, and environmental health sectors. The 2013 emergence of the Ebola virus in West Africa posed a global threat to human and animal health, as well as national security and economic prosperity. In this outbreak, weak health systems combined with poor coordination and collaboration, not only across ministerial bodies in the countries, but across all levels of the outbreak—from siloed responses between international aid organizations to a lack of engagement and coordination with community leaders and organizations. The epidemic called for a workforce at all levels that had the technical skills and competencies to work well within their own discipline and sector, but also possessed the skills to work across sectors and disciplines to promote coordination and communication among all the stakeholders necessary for effective and efficient control of an infectious disease outbreak at this global scale.
This coordination and collaboration across all levels of the human and animal health sectors, a One Health approach, is essential to achieving the GHSA vision due to the complex nature of pandemic threats. It will require a shift in every country’s workforce culture and regulatory framework. Government ministries, industries, non-profits, and academic institutions must work together to achieve a stronger and more effective public health system, from the first responders on the front line to the policy makers implementing change. Universities are key drivers of One Health change as they educate the future One Health workforce and forge partnerships with governments and communities to support workforce strengthening and decision-making through action research, analytic tools, and service work.
In accordance with the GHSA Workforce Development Action Package, OHW recognizes the value and need to strengthen national and international networks to share resources and best practices to enhance individual country’s ability to fulfill relevant IHR and PVS core competencies. The One Health University Networks, One Health Central and Eastern Africa (OHCEA), the Southeast Asia One Health University Network (SEAOHUN) and the country-level One Health University Networks in Vietnam (VOHUN), Thailand (THOHUN), Indonesia (INDOHUN) and Malaysia (MYOHUN) are well positioned to support workforce transformation and the GHSA by driving needed change in culture and competencies system-wide. Nearly all health workers in at risk countries are trained through local or national universities. Further, universities are historically among the most stable institutions in insecure regions of the world, often withstanding social and political disruption and remaining as institutions of knowledge and training for the future. Yet, currently, universities are not graduating health professionals with the skills and competencies necessary to support countries in meeting international standards including WHO IHR, OIE PVS or, more recently the Joint External Evaluations (JEE) being undertaken through GHSA partnerships. Between the 6 One Health University Networks, they support 74 universities in developing and improving rigorous One Health curricula and programs that include practical, hands-on field-based training for current One Health professionals and the future One Health workforce.
In Years 1 and 2, OHW initiated a number of training programs focused on building One Health skills and competencies in students using a set of One Health Core Competencies developed by a group of international experts and stakeholders from across academic, governmental, intergovernmental and private sectors. In Year 3, this provides an excellent opportunity to investigate and document what training methods, skills and competencies are most likely to result in a workforce with the practical, ‘field-ready’ skills to strengthen infectious disease prevention, detection and response on the ground. This will be paired with targeted engagements with government agencies, intergovernmental agencies and private sector partners to define and assess the specific cross-sectoral and technical workforce capacities and competencies needed to strengthen workforce prevention, detection and response to infectious disease threats. This information will then be used in Years 3-5 to progressively strengthen and hone OHW activities to establish a core of university-based sustainable pre-service and in-service training programs along with available training materials, tools and approaches to operationalize One Health globally.
All activities in this work plan are consistent with Public Law No 113-235 to support implementation of the Global Health Security Agenda to prevent emerging and reemerging diseases from spreading, report threats in real-time, limit the spread of Ebola and other dangerous pathogens, and increase preparedness for future outbreaks.
Thailand One Health University Network (THOHUN)
From 2014, THOHUN is supported by OHW project under USAID’s EPT-2 to strengthening the capacity of the global health workforce to prevent, detect, and respond to emerging infectious diseases. Focusing on two infectious disease hot spot regions, Central and Eastern Africa and Southeast Asia, OHW strengthens training and educational programs in universities to create a skilled workforce by using a transdisciplinary approach known as One Health. The One Health approach brings together various disciplines such as medicine, veterinary medicine, public health, nursing, and ecology to work together to more effectively address health challenges at the interface of animals, humans, and the environment. Emerging infectious diseases are among the most pressing of such challenges.
THOHUN focuses on pre-service workforce training and strengthening outbreak response capacity. It collaboratively works with university partners, i.e. Tufts University and University of Minnesota, and South East Asia University One Health Network (SEAOHUN) to conduct a number of activities to promote “One Health” concept in the Thai society at several levels. The regional network, SEAOHUN, is composed of 10 universities and 14 faculties from Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia. These institutions have jointly exchanged academic resources and advance innovative teaching methodologies, as well as shared professional expertise.
Thus far, THOHUN comprises of two founding members: Mahidol University and Chiang Mai University, and other six university members from each region consisting of Chulalongkorn University, Kasetsart University, Khon Kaen University, Prince of Songkla University, Thammasat University, and Mahasarakham University. It also established THOHUN National Coordinating Office (THOHUN-NCO) to facilitate and assist THOHUN members in conducting activities to foster One Health concept and approach.
Identity of THOHUN can be seen from its logo composed of four symbolic elements, e.g. the animal and human footprints heading together to the same direction infers equality; the four-rays’ star of Clover leaf within the letter “U” denotes unity, initiative, fortune, and environment; the national flag circular ban hints the Thai identity; and the human holding hands together signifies collaboration.
1. Build, develop, and expand One Health University Network of Thailand
2. Develop and exchange skilled One Health professionals between universities and involved agencies
3. Support trans-disciplinary collaboration within and between universities and involved agencies
4. Promote research employing One Health approach to promote the health of humans, animals and environment
5. Coordinate with other related One Health Networks in region of South East Asia
This website is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of the Thailand One Health University Network (THOHUN) and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.