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Planting the Seeds of Collaboration for One Health

The University of the Philippines Manila pilots short course to equip health practitioners, academics, and government officials with knowledge on One Health

The University of the Philippines Manila pilots short course to equip health practitioners, academics, and government officials with knowledge on One Health “This was the first-ever course on One Health in the Philippines”, said Dr. Carmencita David-Padilla, Chancellor of the University of Philippines (UP) Manila, upon delivering her closing remarks in the short course on “Introduction to One Health”. “We had limited One Health initiatives in the past and we hope that this short course will trigger a series of capacity-building activities for academics and practitioners working in various health-related disciplines”, she continued.​

“Introduction to One Health” was an online course held from May 4-6, 2021, via Zoom. It was the first initiative of its kind in the Philippines for the capacity building of professionals from the human, animal, and environmental health sectors. More than 130 professionals from 15 regions across the country took part in the course, representing academic institutions, government agencies, and non-government organizations. The participants came from a wide range of disciplines such as medicine, allied health, veterinary medicine, agriculture, education, and social science.

The course was developed by the UP College of Public Health (CPH), SEAMEO TROPMED Regional Centre for Public Health, Hospital Administration, Environmental and Occupational Health (TROPMED Philippines), in collaboration with the Philippine One Health University Network (PhilOHUN). The initiative was supported by a small grant from the Southeast Asia One Health University Network (SEAOHUN) under the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) One Health Workforce - Next Generation (OHW-NG) Project. The course aimed to increase understanding of One Health fundamentals while planting the seeds of multidisciplinary collaboration in research, education, and policy development around One Health in the Philippines.

Over three days, experts and practitioners from the human, animal, and environmental health sectors facilitated a series of sessions on the Fundamentals of One Health; the Interrelatedness of Human, Animal, and Environmental Health; and, the Applications of One Health. Among the course participants was Dr. Virginia M. Venturina, Professor and Dean of the College of Veterinary Science and Medicine of the Central Luzon State University, who shared her hope for more courses that bring together lecturers and academicians from different backgrounds. She said,

“One Health is not new to us, but we need to work more on infusing these important concepts to our students and make these efforts sustainable. This way we can contribute to preventing future pandemics”.

One of the course lecturers, Dr. Soledad Natalia M. Dalisay, Professor and former Chair of the Department of Anthropology at the UP Diliman, reflected: “I hope that through this course, our interests in One Health are piqued, so that when we get back to our offices, our respective work, we would now more consciously seek to work towards the One Health approach. It has already been said that this concept is not new, but this time, hopefully we are now more proactive in trying to tweak work towards the One Health concepts and the processes.” Dr Michael L. Tee, Vice-Chancellor of the UP Manila and Chair of the PhilOHUN shared that the course inspired new ideas that may contribute to the development of new health-related legislation to address issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Vipat Kuruchittham, SEAOHUN Executive Director; Dr. Vicente Y. Belizario Jr., UP CPH / TROPMED Philippines Dean and Centre Director; Dr. Michael L. Tee, PhilOHUN Chair; and, Dr. Carmencita D. Padilla, UP Manila Chancellor giving their closing messages for the participants of “Introduction to One Health”.

Dr. Vicente Y. Belizario, Jr., Dean of the UP CPH and Centre Director of TROPMED Philippines, in his closing statement as course coordinator, expressed that UP CPH/TROPMED Philippines will support other universities that will hold similar courses in the future, and will guide the establishment of “U-2-U” (university to university) collaboration. The College/Centre, together with the PhilOHUN, SEAOHUN, USAID OHW-NG project, and Chevron, will continue to offer courses in One Health to train future “champions” in different fields.

The short course on “Introduction to One Health” has set the stage for expanding the One Health network in the country by bringing together participants from the disciplines of human, animal, and environmental health sectors from across the Philippines. Scaling up and engaging more universities in offering the course as part of continuing education for health, allied health, and collaborating professionals is the next step in advancing One Health in the Philippines, thereby nurturing the seeds of collaboration towards growth to a full-fledged network for the advancement of the One Health agenda in the country.


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