Next Generation One Health Philippines: Building Capacity for Transdisciplinary and Translational Research for Pandemic Prevention

By Renzo R. Guinto, MD DrPH, Gail S. Co, MD MBA, Jerome Z. Mejarito, Louella A. Asuncion, RMT, Carlo Luayon

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Citation

Guinto R, Co G, Mejarito J, Asuncion L, Luayon C. Next generation one health Philippines: building capacity for transdisciplinary and translational research for pandemic prevention. HPHR. 2022;69. 

Next Generation One Health Philippines: Building Capacity for Transdisciplinary and Translational Research for Pandemic Prevention

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Background

The Philippines is a biodiversity hotspot and a major hub for the global wildlife trade, many of which are identified as carriers of zoonotic pathogens. With support from the International Alliance Against Health Risks in Wildlife Trade, the Planetary and Global Health Program of the St. Luke’s Medical Center College of Medicine established the Next Generation One Health Philippines (NGOHP) Fellowship Program to strengthen domestic capacity for One Health research in tackling wildlife trade and biodiversity loss as drivers of infectious disease emergence. The Philippines is a biodiversity hotspot and a major hub for the global wildlife trade, many of which are identified as carriers of zoonotic pathogens. With support from the International Alliance Against Health Risks in Wildlife Trade, the Planetary and Global Health Program of the St. Luke’s Medical Center College of Medicine established the Next Generation One Health Philippines (NGOHP) Fellowship Program to strengthen domestic capacity for One Health research in tackling wildlife trade and biodiversity loss as drivers of infectious disease emergence. 

Description

This program will comprise a small cohort of professionals from diverse sociocultural and interdisciplinary backgrounds related to One Health, wildlife conservation, and zoonotic spillover prevention. They will participate in a year-long program that begins with an online introductory course, followed by a workshop in collaborative research, leadership, advocacy, and communications. Supported by mentors and small grants, fellows will conduct transdisciplinary research on issues surrounding wildlife trade and zoonotic spillover prevention. To ensure dissemination and translation of findings to the policy and practice space, fellows will participate in dialogues with relevant stakeholders. 

Lessons learned

The COVID-19 crisis has reinforced the importance of One Health; hence this fellowship is essential, especially in the Philippines where One Health research capacity is limited. The pandemic also changed the way learning and collaborative research is designed and implemented, for instance in maximizing the use of digital learning platforms. The fellowship also covers the entire knowledge cycle – from its creation through research, re-creation through education, and translation into policy and practice – which is vital for producing the next generation of One Health leaders who are not only scientists but also educators and leaders.

Conclusions/Next steps

To prevent the next pandemic, there is a need to create a new cadre of emerging scholar-practitioners who are equipped to apply the One Health approach to navigate complex transdisciplinary and cross-sectoral spaces. Moving forward, sustained support from different sectors is critical to ensure the program’s institutionalization and continuity in producing new One Health leaders. The knowledge products from the fellowship must also be made widely available to all learners in the country.

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