The interconnections of humans, domestic animals, wildlife and the environment have increasingly become complex, requiring innovative and collaborative approaches (One Health approach) for addressing global health challenges. One Health is a multidisciplinary and multi-sectoral collaborative approach to human, animal, plant and environmental health. The role of academia in training professionals oriented in One Health is critical in building a global workforce capable of enhancing synergies of various sectors in improving health.
Makerere University, Uganda has implemented pre-service capacity building initiatives aimed to foster One Health competencies among students who are future practitioners. In addition to incorporating the One Health concept in didactic curricula, Student One Health Innovation Clubs, undergraduate field placements in 11 demonstration sites, graduate fellowships, small grants to support research and innovations, and cross-college collaborative training approaches have greatly aided the assimilation of One Health into the fabric of university offerings. Partnerships with government ministries, private sector and international agencies were initiated to benefit the students, as well as chart a path for experiential learning and in-service offerings in the future.
One major challenge, however, has been the tendency to focus on infectious diseases, especially zoonoses, with less consideration of other health issues. The opportunity for improvement, nonetheless, lies in the increasing emerging and re-emerging health concerns including epidemics, environmental pollution and related challenges which justify the need for countries and institutions to focus on building and strengthening multidisciplinary health systems.