OHASA (One Health Alliance of South Asia)
There is an increasing number of emerging infectious diseases, the majority of which originate from wildlife. These zoonoses often impact wild and domestic animals and human populations, and as a result require a holistic approach to their study and control. The ‘One Health’ perspective recognizes that the health of humans, animals, and ecosystems are inextricably linked and therefore requires experts from different health-related fields to work together to predict, prevent, and control zoonotic diseases.
OHASA’s mission is to facilitate communication and cooperation among scientific and government agencies in member countries through meetings, workshops, research, and information exchange.
There is an urgent need for a scalable, cohesive network of scientists and policy makers in South Asia working to develop trans-boundary and multidisciplinary approaches to preventing and controlling zoonotic disease outbreaks in the region. There are many examples of zoonoses that impact human and animal health in the region, such as avian influenza, rabies, and Nipah virus – an emerging bat-borne virus. Nipah virus has been the cause of repeated localized outbreaks of encephalitis in India and Bangladesh, with case fatality rates averaging 75 percent and as high as 100 percent. The prevention of outbreaks of Nipah and other viruses that have the potential to spark pandemics requires a ‘One Health’ approach with cooperation among regional ministries of Health, Agriculture, and Environment, as well as regional NGOs and scientists to implement effective interventions while managing and protecting ecologically important wildlife species.
While there are individuals and organizations within countries in the region that use a ‘One Health’ approach, a region-wide mechanism for promoting cooperation between local and governmental agencies, as well as experts from different health fields, is essential for monitoring and controlling infectious diseases that spread rapidly across borders.
What is the One Health Alliance of South Asia (OHASA)?
OHASA is the premiere regional network of scientists and policy-makers representing inter-governmental, governmental, and non-governmental agencies in South Asia that support and advance the ‘One Health’ perspective. OHASA currently has more than 70 individual members across four countries and includes one chartered national organization in Nepal (the One Health Alliance of Nepal – OHAN). The OHASA Steering Committee welcomes engagement from other partner countries in the region, including Bhutan, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka. OHASA is governed by a steering committee (OHASA-SC) composed of representatives from each member country and a senior delegate from EcoHealth Alliance.