It is estimated that six out of every 10 known infectious diseases in people are of animal origin. Diseases and infections that can be transmitted between animals and humans are called zoonoses. For new or emerging infectious diseases, even three out of every four are zoonotic. To signal, assess and control (potentially) emerging zoonotic infections, there is a strong need for human-veterinary collaboration. Such collaboration can be seen as an One Health approach. Cohesive –One Health Structure In Europe- is a 3-year project, which aims to develop sustainable One Health approaches with respect to signalling, assessing and controlling zoonoses at the national level within EU countries and across borders. In this EJP Joint Integrative Project 18 institutes of 9 EU member states collaborate to accomplish four major objectives.
First, One Health approaches at the national level within EU countries will be stimulated, focussing on strengthening human‐veterinary collaboration with respect to early signalling and assessing zoonotic threats. To do this, best practice methods will be used to design guidelines to help improve human-veterinary collaborations. Similarities and differences between countries will be taken into account. Cohesive will facilitate in the first step of creating support for an One Health structure by organizing local workshops with national stakeholders. Also, systematic ways to assess zoonotic threats will be developed.
The second objective is to develop a roadmap towards an EU zoonoses risk‐assessment or risk‐analysis structure. Since such an EU zoonoses structure should be seen as a dot on the horizon, within Cohesive we will try to identify first small steps that can be made on this roadmap. Therefore, we will identify existing risk analysis and epidemiological tools, skills and facilities. To do this, Cohesive will involve surveillance and epidemiological experts, member states and institutes which already make use of (some kind of) early warning systems across Europe. Also insights in the barriers for successful cross-border collaboration are useful. Learning from previous outbreaks or emerge of zoonotic pathogens is part of this objective.
The third objective focuses on stimulating the availability and accessibility of surveillance and outbreak data on (foodborne) zoonoses across borders. Data and IT tools which are quickly available, usable and helpful in outbreak situations and for risk assessments will be provided. Especially tools for tracing, WGS and standardized risk assessments will be established, harmonized and improved. All tools will be accessible through one software platform (open source), which will be freely available in the cloud as online and easy to use applications. Interoperability with the main data exchange systems at EU level will be ensured such as the TESSy platform and the EFSA zoonoses data collection system.
Finally, the fourth objective is that the whole project aims at capacity building, leading to long term collaboration between the human and veterinary domain, by building and maintaining networks of surveillance expertise.This will be achieved at different levels, such as operational and administrative level, communication and policy makers, both within and between countries. Several pilots will be organized in which the developed tools such as guidelines for setting‐up a ‘One Health Structure’, risk‐assessment tool, early warning tool and data platform will be tested.