Strengthening the IHR with a ‘One Health Approach’ in West Africa recognizes the importance of multisectoral, coordinated efforts in safeguarding public health. The recently amended IHR at the just concluded Seventy-seventh World Health Assembly should further strengthen preparedness, surveillance, and response to public health emergencies.

While the One Health approach provides a solid foundation for strengthening health systems in West Africa, further steps were recommended during the technical meeting:

  • System Strengthening: This requires investing in resources, training, and community-based partnerships to ensure that public health systems are better prepared to detect, prevent, and respond to potential outbreaks.
  • Capacity Building: The establishment of robust public health institutes in Benin and Togo is integral to bolstering the public health system in West Africa. The implementation of initiatives that enhance the skills and resources of healthcare workers and institutions, particularly in these two countries, is crucial to realizing this objective.
  • Avoiding Silos: This underscores the need to avoid duplication of efforts and foster a unified, streamlined approach to pandemic prevention and control across sectors, from healthcare and agriculture to public health and environmental agencies.

In West Africa’s quest to enhance the healthcare workforce, sustained collaboration between WAHO, Expertise France, and other regional and international partners will be vital in building robust, adaptable public health systems capable of tackling present and future health challenges. The integration of gender considerations and the adoption of the One Health approach will not only lead to improved public health outcomes but also ensure that the benefits of health interventions are shared equitably among all members of society.