ONE HEALTH APPROACH: THE PHILIPPINE EXPERIENCE
Dr. Simeon S. Amurao Jr., Dr. Emelinda L. Lopez, and Dr. Maria Glofezita O. Lagayan,
Dr. Noverlee P. Calub, and Dr. Daphne L. Jorca
Bureau of Animal Industry, Visayas Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
The One Health concept simply states that there should be a unified interaction between veterinary, human health medicine, and public and environmental health professionals, clinicians, researchers, agencies and governments working together for the benefit of sustainable and effective community health interventions in solving global and environmental health challenges. Such interactions may take place at many levels – from management of zoonotic infectious disease outbreaks to integrated policy making and funding decisions. This paper focuses on the One Health Approach of the Philippines at the national and local levels from the view of Animal Health Program Implementers, with focus on the creation and mechanisms following: 1) the National Rabies Prevention and Control Program (NRPCP), 2) the Avian Influenza Protection Program (AIPP), 3) the Philippine Inter-agency Committee on Zoonoses (PhiICZ), and 4) other important diseases with inter-agency collaboration (Henipavirus, Ebola Reston Virus and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) such as Schistosomiasis). The said programs and committees are discussed with their own committees and examples of One Health Approach in the prevention, control and eventual elimination of emerging and re-emerging zoonoses. The NRPCP is a multi-agency program formed through Republic Act 9482 or the “Anti-rabies Act of 2007” with the aim to prevent and control rabies. The same program has a special committee (National Rabies Prevention and Control Committee NRPCC) that meets regularly in the implementation of the program. The AIPP has its own Task Force and Manual of Operations in preparing and protecting the country against the dangers of Avian Influenza and its possible route of entry. While the PhiICZ is a formal committee created specifically to support the One Health and zoonotic disease collaborations. It endeavors to develop a national strategy on prevention, control and elimination of zoonoses, and establish a functional and sustainable mechanism to strengthen the animal-human interface for the effective prevention, control and elimination of zoonotic diseases. Lastly, other forms of success in the One Health Approach include inter-agency cooperation in other important diseases such as Henipavirus, Ebola Reston Virus and Shcistosomiasis. The recognized One Health partnership in the Philippines assures that any emerging diseases can have conclusive and immediate action leading to a quick response and better resolution.
Key words: Animal Health, Human Health, Collaboration, National Rabies Prevention and Control Committee (NRPCC), Philippine Inter-agency Committee on Zoonoses (PhiICZ)
The 'One Health' concept simply states that there should be a seamless interaction between veterinary and human medicine with clinicians, researchers, agencies and governments working together for the benefit of domestic and wild animal and human health and the global environment. Such interactions may take place at many levels - from management of zoonotic infectious disease outbreaks in the field, to joint research programs to integrated policy making and funding decisions.1
The concept of “One Health” is recognized both nationally and globally, and is being interpreted in different ways, and at different ways in different countries. Like many countries, for years the Philippines has been quietly practicing this concept at the local setting with different labels such as coordination, collaboration, and biosecurity. These efforts are unfortunately poorly documented and unofficially recognized then. In the advent of the growing trend of Emerging (and Resurging) Infectious and Transboundary Animal Diseases, the Philippines has accepted that the present health issues faced globally is linked to the increasing contact between humans and animals, intensification of food production, and the growth of international travel. Environmental factors such as global warming, urbanization, climate shift, and globalization also contributes to this increasing development.
ONE HEALTH APPROACH ACTIVITIES IN THE PHILIPPINES
The National Rabies Prevention and Control Program (NRPCP)
Rabies in the Philippines is present since the early times and collaborative activities within the national and local government units have existed as far back as the 1800s. However, this unfortunately lacked sufficient documentation. Today, rabies continues to be a serious public health issue in the Philippines causing 200 to 250 deaths yearly to Filipinos. In 2015 alone, there were 702 laboratory confirmed animal rabies cases recorded out of 2,653 samples submitted.
Recognizing the need to address this problem, the “Anti-Rabies Act of 2007” otherwise known as the Republic Act 9482 was passed. It provides for the control and elimination of human and animal rabies, prescribing penalties for violation thereof and appropriating funds therefor. It was signed into law on the 25th of May 2007. Pursuant to this act is the creation of the National Rabies Prevention and Control Program, a multi-agency effort in controlling and eliminating Rabies in the country. The program is implemented by the National Rabies Prevention and Control Committee chaired by the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and vice-chaired by the National Center for Disease Prevention and Control (NCDPC) of the Department of Health (DOH). The committee is composed of one duly representative for each of the following departments: DA, DOH, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Department of Education (DepEd); and one representative each for the following: Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), People’s Organizations (POs), academe, Local Government Units (LGUs), and Provincial, City, and Municipal Veterinarians League of the Philippines (PCMVLP). Among its component activities include: (1) Mass registration and vaccination of dogs; (2) Establishment of central database system for registered and vaccinated dogs; (3) Impounding, field control and disposition of unregistered, stray and unvaccinated dogs; (4) Conduct of information and education campaign on the prevention and control of rabies; (5) Provision on pre-exposure treatment to high-risk personnel and post-exposure treatment to animal bite victims; (6) Provision of free routine immunization or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) of school children aged five to fourteen in areas where there is high incidence of rabies; and (7) Encouragement of the practice of responsible Pet ownership (RPO).
The program includes specific responsibilities of the agencies and organizations mentioned, including pet owners’ roles and responsibilities, with supporting penalties in its implementation.
Table 1. Roles and responsibilities of pet owners, government agencies, LGUs, NGOs and academe
Currently, the National Rabies Prevention and Control Committee (NRPCC) have regular meetings every two months or as often as maybe necessary to implement the program. All other roles and responsibilities of the Committee are stated under the Implementing Rules and Regulations Implementing Republic Act 9482, Rule 4.
With the realization in the NRPCP in the importance of mass dog vaccination as key strategy to control and eventually eliminate human rabies at its source, the objective of the program is to cover at least 70% of the estimated dog population of the country. With this objective, in 2014, the Department of Health has allocated sixty nine million five hundred forty five thousand pesos (PhP 69,545,000.00) to transfer to the Department of Agriculture to augment the much needed purchase of dog anti-rabies vaccines. This is a first of its kind to be done in the immediate need to achieve a common goal, and a collaborative effort between multiple agencies.
Avian Influenza Protection Program (AIPP)
The Philippine Avian Influenza Protection Program (AIPP) was developed during the height of the outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in South East Asia. It was formally implemented on April 20, 2005 through Joint Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Health (DOH) Administrative Order No. 001 which also established the National Avian Influenza Task Force (NAITF), jointly implemented by the poultry industry. The AIPP Manual of Procedures has become one of the primary references for information on the government’s AI prevention program and preparedness plan. The courses of action mainly address HPAI incursion, especially with the increased arrival of international visitors and Filipinos, and in the importation of live domestic and wild birds, poultry and/or poultry products from notifiable Avian Influenza affected countries or zones.
Since then, there have been developments in the knowledge on Avian Influenza. Technological advancements have improved the understanding of the disease – information on new pathologic strains, development or improvement of control measures, and increased preparedness and capabilities to address related situations. In 2010, the DOH has released the Philippine Preparedness and Response Plan for Pandemic and Avian Influenza to address AI and other emerging infectious diseases with special consideration to the human sector. Since then, over the course of time, developments have necessitated the review and revision of the said document in consultation with representatives from the national, regional and local government offices, the academe and the poultry industry organizations.
There are 4 stages in the AIPP, and the Philippines is currently implementing Stage 1 under the Department of Agriculture –
Department of Agriculture
Keeping the Philippines Bird-Flu Free
Controlling and Eradicating Bird Flu in Domestic Fowl
Department of Health
Prevention and Control of AI in humans
Mitigation of Public Health and Socio-Economic Impact of Pandemic Influenza
The Prevention Program includes a (1) Ban on Importation from AI-Affected Countries, (2) Minimum Biosecurity Measures, (3) Surveillance and Prevention Programs at Airports and Seaports, (4) Surveillance of Poultry in Critical Areas in the Philippines, (5) Preparedness from the National to Local Level, (6) Establishment of Compartmentalized Poultry Zones, (7) Upgrading of Laboratory facilities – PAHC and RADDLs, (8) Enforcement of the Wildlife Act, and (9) Preventive Measures in Humans. With this ongoing program and through the strong collaborative efforts of the different sectors involved, the Philippines remain as one of the Avian Influenza free countries in South East Asia.
Philippines Inter-agency Committee on Zoonoses
The Philippine Inter-agency Committee (PhiICZ) on Zoonoses (formerly Philippines National Committee on Zoonoses) was created with the vision to establish animal and human health sector collaboration between the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Health (DOH), and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for the prevention and control of zoonoses. At this time, collaborative activities already exist between the said agencies in specific diseases such as the Rabies Prevention and Control Program, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), and the Ebola Reston Virus in Pigs Disease Control and Management.
In 2010, the Philippines participated in the “Regional Workshop on Collaboration between Human and Animal Health Sectors on Zoonoses Prevention and Control” in Sapporo, Japan. The additional learnings and increased commitments from joint workshops and local meetings helped in the completion of PhiICZ’s creation through Administrative Order No. 10 dated 11 April 2011 signed by President Benigno S. Aquino III, entitled “Creating the Philippine Inter-agency Committee on Zoonoses, Defining Its Powers, Functions, Responsibilities, Other Related Matters and Providing Funds Thereof.” The Committee is composed of the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and their respective agencies as members. The Secretary of each Department or his duly authorized representative serves as Chairperson of the PhiICZ on a two-year rotational basis. It is currently chaired by the Department of Health (2015 to 2016), previous chairmanship includes: DENR-Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (2013 to 2014), DA-Bureau of Animal Industry (2011 to 2012), and DOH-National Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
The details of the members of the PhiICZ are the following:
a. Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB)
The PhiICZ endeavors to: a) develop a national strategy on prevention, control and elimination of zoonoses; and b) establish a functional and sustainable mechanism to strengthen the animal-human interface for the effective prevention, control and elimination of zoonotic diseases.
The PhilCZ’s function are the following: (1) Ensure that the animal and human health sectors’ plans, programs and activities are consistent with the National Strategic Work Plan; (2) Review and develop policies, programs and guidelines to ensure the proper implementation of the prevention and control program on zoonoses; (3) Develop and coordinate capacity building programs and prioritize activities towards improving national and local capabilities; (4) Foster cooperation and commitment between the animal and human health sectors through coordination of activities and exchange of advice and assistance whenever possible; (5) Provide recommendations to the President of the Philippines through the Secretaries of the DA, DOH and DENR in times of crises or as may be deemed necessary (i.e. epidemics of zoonotic nature); (6) Recommend research priorities and ensure dissemination and use of research findings; (7) Organize a pool of experts who will provide technical advice on zoonotic diseases; (8) Coordinate and collaborate with other sectors/organizations as may be necessary, to carry out its duties and responsibilities; and (9) Monitor and evaluate proper implementation of programs and policies.
Responsibilities of agencies:
The Secretaries of Agriculture, Health and Environment and Natural Resources shall provide the guidelines for the operationalization of the PhilCZ through a Joint Administrative Order, and promulgate rules and regulations, as may be necessary, related, incidental or consistent with the purpose, intent and objective of this Order. All instrumentalities of government are directed to support and assist the PhilCZ when deemed necessary.
The Committee’s future plans for the next few years include plans to increase the advocacy on the PhiICZ; the regional implementation of the PhiICZ at the country level; the finalization, approval, and implementation of the Joint Department Administrative Order on the “Guidelines to Operationalize the PhiICZ”; and the conduct of joint DA-DOH-DENR trainings and its actual operation.
Other collaborations and cooperation
Aside from Rabies, AI and the PhiICZ, part of the experiences of the Philippines on One Health is addressing Henipavirus, Ebola Reston Virus and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) such as Schistosomiasis. On Henipa, detection of the virus and institutionalizing quarantine procedures and control measures was conducted along with the DOH, Provincial Veterinary Office and the Philippine National Police (PNP). On Ebola Reston, the Bureau was able to deal with the virus in swine and monkeys in terms of detection, IEC, depopulation and bat surveillance with DOH, DENR-PAWB, LGUs and concerned stakeholders. Also for Schistosomiasis, a project is currently being tackled with the DOH and WHO.
As stated by Dr. Enrique A. Tayag, Assistant Secretary of the DOH during the “Perspectives in Intersectoral Collaboration during the National Consultative Workshop on Zoonoses” last 16-17 November 2011: “Collaborative partnerships have the best chance for success when members lay the foundation in the first mile for the last mile success and take mutual responsibility along the journey for leadership, management, and culture within the partnership.” Any program to combat a disease challenge faced by public health can be successful through effective collaboration and coordination with different sectors – One Health. Though it might be interpreted differently from other countries and the One Health approach has been existing and effective at the local settings of the Philippines in the control of numerous diseases. The Philippine agencies involved are aware that existing collaborative activities and One Health partnerships are essential in the conclusive and immediate action towards the control and eventual elimination of emerging and re-emerging diseases.
Administrative Order No. 10, series of 2011, “Creating the Philippine Inter-agency Committee on Zoonoses, Defining its Powers, Functions, Responsibilities, Other Related Matters and Providing Funds Thereof.
Joint DA, DOH, DepEd, DILG Administrative Order No. 01, Series of 2008. “Implementing Rules and Regulations Implementing Republic Act 9482 for the Control and Elimination of Human and Animal Rabies, Prescribing Penalties for Violation Thereof and Appropriating Funds Therefor
Michael J Day (2011). “One health: the importance of companion animal vector-borne diseases”. Parasites & Vectors 20114:49. DOI: 10.1186/1756-3305-4-49. BioMed Central Ltd. 2011. Received: 7 January 2011. Accepted: 13 April 2011. Published: 13 April 2011.
Pappaioanou M (2004). "Veterinary medicine protecting and promoting the public's health and well-being". Preventive Veterinary Medicine 62 (3):153-163.doi:10.1016/j.prevetmed.2003.11. 001. PMID 15041202.
Republic Act No. 9482 (“Anti-Rabies Act of 2007”), “An Act Providing for the Control and Elimination of Human and Animal Rabies, Prescribing Penalties for Violation Thereof and Appropriating Funds Therefor.
1 Michael J Day (2011). “One health: the importance of companion animal vector-borne diseases”. Parasites & Vectors 20114:49. DOI: 10.1186/1756-3305-4-49. BioMed Central Ltd. 2011. Received: 7 January 2011. Accepted: 13 April 2011. Published: 13 April 2011.