Zoonotic diseases in Ethiopia

Why Zoonotic Diseases Prevention and Control be our focus?

The livelihood of rural community of Ethiopia is mainly dependant on livestock production which made the rural communities to have an intimate relationship with their animals and zoonotic infections, transmissible between humans and animals, are closely associated with rural communities & specially the pastoralist. According to the various studies conducted in Ethiopia, different types of zoonotic diseases are reported from different areas of the country including anthrax, brucellosis, rabies, tuberculosis etc of which rabies is the most killer and known in its occurrence. There are common practices such as traditional husbandry and poor management practices, mixing of wild animals with farm animals and unrestricted movement and living of rural communities specially pastoralists together with their animals are thought to support spread of zoonotic diseases in Ethiopia. In addition to this, consumption of raw milk and meat together with handling of sick animals and animal products with bare hand facilitates transmission of zoonotic diseases. There is a knowledge gap about zoonoses not only in the pastoralists but also in the medical professionals found in the pastoral areas of the country. There is community health extension program in Ethiopia which was launched to educate the community about primary health care but it lacks a discipline related with zoonoses. Therefore, preventing the diseases before occurrence using community based intervention programs such as prevention package, awareness creation programs and controlling the transmission of the diseases and strengthening the integrated work between all concerned bodies are helpful for better health in the pastoral areas of Ethiopia.

Rabies listed as top priority zoonotic disease in Ethiopia

Rabies has been named as the top priority zoonotic disease of major public health concern in Ethiopia. The top five zoonotic diseases, out of a list of 43 potential zoonotic diseases of concern, are identified as a major public health concern in Ethiopia that need to be jointly addressed by animal and human health agencies to have the maximum impact on the health of people and animals. Experts agreed that rabies was the most dangerous threat among the zoonotic diseases considered. The five selected zoonotic diseases were rabies, anthrax, brucellosis, tuberculosis, and echinococcosis. Zoonotic diseases have a huge impact in Ethiopia due to the large numbers of livestock and low-income farmers. A large proportion of the population has direct contact with livestock on a daily basis and is therefore at a higher risk. More collaboration is needed between the human and animal health sectors to tackle the disease.

Zoonotic diseases solutions

To minimize Zoonotic Diseases Occurrences in Ethiopia especially in pastoralist areas, the following points are important and recommended as solutions:

  • Since controlling of zoonotic diseases at human level requires huge investment and mostly not successful, it is better to prevent the diseases before their occurrence using community based intervention programs such as prevention package, awareness creation programs and controlling the origin, source and vehicles of transmission of the diseases
  • In the rural community especially the pastoral areas of Ethiopia, there is a need to fill the knowledge gap by creating awareness and training on zoonotic disease prevention and control mechanisms for health & livestock extension workers
  • There is a need of mainstreaming the issue of zoonoses to government structures so that they will practice awareness of animal, human & environment health integration prevention & control system.
  • Delivering capacity building and awareness creation training to medical and other related professionals working in health centers (mainly to those who work in the rural especially pastoral areas)
  • Establishing one health zoonotic diseases diagnostic & therapeutic research and training center
  • Prepare awareness creation session for milk sellers/distributers to minimize the transmission of diseases through non hygienic milk consumption.
  • Creating and strengthening integrated and collaborative work between veterinarians, medical professionals and other concerned bodies for better health in the rural especially pastoral areas of Ethiopia.
One Health Ethiopia