One Health is part of the Future Africa research themes and the University of Pretoria strategic plan. The definitions differ widely, but most agree it involves a collaborative, multisectoral, and transdisciplinary approach to achieve optimal health outcomes and recognise the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment. Africa has unique challenges, and a One Health approach must consider the context locally, regionally and globally. Historically "One Health" has been mostly associated with emerging infectious diseases, food security and antimicrobial resistance; however, it is a much broader approach in collaborative effort and disciplines. The Chair is instrumental in supporting and expanding One Health transdisciplinary research and activities across the University of Pretoria departments and faculties and between institutions, countries and continents. The Chair provides leadership and creates opportunities and resources to enable this, and by bringing people together, real-world problems and changes in behaviour through transdisciplinary thinking will occur.
The definition is based on One Health Foundational Principles
- Equity between sectors and disciplines
- Sociopolitical parity (all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities), inclusion and engagement of communities and marginalized voices
- Socioecological equilibrium that seeks a harmonious balance between human—animal-environment interaction and acknowledging the importance of biodiversity, access to sufficient space and resources, and the intrinsic value of all living things within the ecosystem
- Stewardship and the responsibility of humans to adopt sustainable solutions that recognize the importance of animal welfare and the integrity of the whole ecosystem, thus securing the well-being of current and future generations
- Transdisciplinarity and multisectoral collaboration which includes all relevant disciplines, both modern and traditional forms of knowledge and a broad representative array of perspectives.
Future Africa is aligning with these strategic directions of One Health including the One Health Joint Plan of Action (OH JPA)2 that aims to create a framework to integrate systems and capacity for effective and efficient prevention, prediction, detection, and response to health threats.
In addition, we follow the OHHLEP Theory of Change to guide the implementation of One Health initiatives across the University, in South Africa, on the African continent and globally. This theory emphasizes the need for collaboration, communication, and coordination between various stakeholders, including academia, policymakers, researchers, health professionals, and community members.
The One Health Research Chair
Prof Markotter is appointed Research Chair at Future Africa named People, Health and Place (One Health). She is also the Director of the Centre for Viral Zoonoses (UP-CVZ), Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria and occupies the DSI-NRF South African Research Chair in "Infectious Diseases of Animals " (Zoonoses). Her interdisciplinary research programme focusing on bat pathogens and predicting and preventing the risk of spill over. In 2021 she was appointed as the Co-Chair of the One Health High-Level Expert Panel (OHHLEP) advising the WHO, WOAH, FAO and UNEP. She is involved in several One Health activities with a pan-Africa focus.