South Asia One Health Disease Surveillance Network (SAOH-Net) is a network consisting of members from governmental and non-governmental organizations of human health, animal health, wildlife, food safety, and environment sectors from 8 South Asian countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka).  SAOH-Net as initiated in 2016 by Ending Pandemics and formally established December 2017 with support from the Ending Pandemics and Emergency Centre from Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) of Food and Animal Organization (FAO).

Joint Statement from the Network Members

As a potential hotspot for emerging infectious diseases, South Asia is home to close to 1.8 billion people, subject to the extremes of climate change, and rich in the biodiversity that is very likely to see the emergence of a pathogen unknown to man. Yet, regional cooperation on disease surveillance is far from optimal. Knowing every country is as vulnerable as its neighbor to a newly emerging infectious disease, regional cooperation is essential for rapid action.

Therefore, we, the eight countries in South Asia, envision a future where regional cooperation allows every country to find, verify, and respond to outbreaks fast enough to prevent local emergence from becoming a public health emergency of international concern.

Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka joined an inaugural convening of a South Asia Surveillance Network, December 11-13, 2017. The eight countries shared current capacities in animal health and human health disease surveillance and committed to a cross-sectoral, cross-border approach to finding, verifying, and responding to outbreaks faster, i.e., a One Health approach.

Participants at this convening worked together to define a governance structure of the secretariat and identified key stakeholders relevant to the network. Members confirmed their willingness to strengthen cross sector and cross border relationships. We are confident that a regional network would enable those ties and establish trust and sharing of information and capacities in the region.

Ending Pandemics will continue to offer technical and financial support for the 2018 work plan of this nascent network, and will partner with Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) for coordination of activities.

Purpose of the Network

Specific activities include:

  • Facilitate coordination and strengthening of regional capacities for disease surveillance, rapid outbreak detection and response
  • Enable creation of common platform for sharing information on disease surveillance and outbreak reports in a timely manner both within and between countries
  • Coordinate and organize trainings on disease surveillance, outbreak investigation, and laboratory diagnosis
  • Support development of reliable and effective disease surveillance systems including cross-sectoral integrated surveillance system for zoonoses
  • Facilitate coordination and collaboration on cross-border disease surveillance and outbreak management, and address cross-border issues related to transboundary diseases
  • Facilitate prioritization of diseases in member countries and identify common interests
  • Facilitate identification, sharing and exchange of knowledge, experiences, good practices, and resources
  • Facilitate sharing and harmonization of guidelines and SOPs on disease surveillance, and outbreak prevention and management
  • Build research capacity and conduct collaborative research on priority diseases, and enable sharing of research findings
  • Enable exchange and mobilization of scientific experts, and other resources (vaccines, reagents, etc) during emergencies
  • Promote innovations on disease surveillance and outbreak detection and response
  • Facilitate mobilization and garnering support for promoting One Health activities and regional capacity building from international organizations (WHO/FAO/OIE) and NGOs
  • Facilitate organization of regional seminars, workshops and conferences to bring all stakeholders together in one platform
  • Facilitate establishment of linkages with other regional networks

Network Stakeholders

  1. Relevant ministries involved in core One Health activities are Ministries responsible for human health; livestock; food safety; wildlife; and environment
  2. Academic and research institutions
  3. Allied ministries: Ministries responsible for Emergency/Disaster Management, Finance, Foreign Affairs, Trade and Industry, Homeland/Interior/Planning and Development
  4. Parliamentarians
  5. International partners within countries (e.g. Rotary International, WHO, OIE, FAO, EcoHealth Alliance, UNICEF)
  6. Media partners
  7. Social scientists
  8. Civil societies (e.g. Human and Animal Rights Groups, NGOs, etc)
  9. Private sectors and corporate companies
Figure 1. Organization of stakeholders for hypothesized One Health network map

Governance structure

The governance structure for the SA One Health Disease Surveillance network will consist of a Coordination Unit, founding members, Technical Advisory Group including selected experts/volunteers as shown in Figure 2 below.

Figure 2. Governance structure (Coordination Unit) of South Asia One Health Disease Surveillance Network