Launch of the One Health Bengaluru City Consortium by Bengaluru Science and Technology

 Launch of the One Health Bengaluru City Consortium by Bengaluru Science and Technology

Bengaluru Science and Technology (BeST) Cluster

Bengaluru Science and Technology (BeST) Cluster, located in the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Campus, an initiative of the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, focuses on ‘One Health’ among other themes. One Health is a multi-sectoral approach that takes into consideration human, animal, and environmental health and the interconnectivity and interdependence of these three elements. The BeST cluster launched the ‘One Health Bengaluru City Consortium’ as a significant first step towards the goal of integrating existing one health efforts, facilitating collaboration, and building a one health framework for the city of Bengaluru. Representatives from 25+ organizations consisting of researchers, academicians, technologists, industry experts, practitioners, policymakers, city planners, health authorities, not-for-profit organizations, and civic officials were gathered for the launch of the One Health Bengaluru City Consortium on 3rd March 2023, with a goal toward integrating existing one health efforts, facilitating collaboration, and building a One Health framework for the city of Bengaluru.

Bengaluru Science and Technology(BeST) | Neosciencehub | NSH
Cross-sector panel from left to right, Dr. Farah Ishtiaq (TIGS), Dr. Lena Robra (Swissnex), Dr. Thrilok Chandra (Special Health Commissioner BBMP), Dr. Reeta.S. Mani (NIMHANS), Mr.Vishwanath Srikantaiah (Biome Environmental Trust)

Dr. Sindura Ganapathi, Visiting Fellow, One Health Mission, Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser (OPSA) to the Government of India joined virtually to deliver the keynote address. Explaining the One Health Mission of OPSA, he pointed out the lack of existing models worked out for implementing One Health in cities and districts. He expressed that the way forward for the wastewater-based epidemiology project that impacted the rapid response of BBMP in Bengaluru, now adopted as a pilot for the One Health Bengaluru City Project by BeST Cluster, would be to go beyond COVID to other region-specific diseases, and the learnings used to develop models for other cities. He also emphasized the importance of sampling, and data usability to help the state government to better manage programs related to human health, animal health, wildlife, and forestry. He said, “For me, the success a year or two from now, from the launch of this activity is you have worked out a model where all stakeholders collaborate and develop a decent understanding of what the priorities of our policymakers should be.”

During the launch, Dr. K.V.Thrilok Chandra, IAS, Special Health Commissioner, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) addressed the gathering. He emphasized the importance of putting in place a systemic mechanism to quickly capture and respond to emerging diseases and the necessity for scientists and technology players to collaborate and collate information. BBMP has already established the ‘One Health Cell’, set aside significant seed capital in the current budget for the same, and set up a Hi-Tech Laboratory and Metropolitan Monitoring Centre to capture the major disease parameters. He said, “We don’t need another World War on the health front for us to wake up again.”

A cross-sector panel consisting of stakeholders from science, policy, urban planning, medicine, and academic engagement discussed the priorities, challenges, and future plans for the One Health approach with respect to Bengaluru city. The panel highlighted the importance of identifying shared goals, building mutual trust, data sharing among cross sectors, developing advanced alarm systems to aid decision making, mapping different ecosystems in and around the city to understand the interconnectedness and its impact, creating awareness and building capacity on the ground right from the student level. The event also had speakers briefing existing consortium efforts on environmental surveillance, disease ecology, and stakeholder mapping with respect to One Health in Bengaluru.

Bengaluru Science and Technology Zoom Call | Neo Science Hub | NSH
Speakers at the event: From left to right, Dr. Sindura Ganapathi, Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, Prof. Uma Ramakrishnan, NCBS, Dr. Shannon Olson, Echo Network, Dr. Varsha Shridhar, Molecular Solutions

Ten years from now, the consortium envisions having an organized dashboard for data-informed policymaking, environmental surveillance made part of the public health care system, and a model framework in place for other cities to learn. “One Health Bengaluru City Consortium is being driven by disease ecology and environmental surveillance as an evidence-based approach for predicting risks to human and animal health. Cross-sector communication and cooperation between this multi-stakeholder partnership is a prerequisite in responding to emerging health crises”, said Dr. Farah Ishtiaq, Principal Scientist, at Tata Institute for Genetics and Society (TIGS). “Bengaluru is a huge urban center with interfaces between wildlife, livestock and commensals, and people. Additionally, rapid development and changing climate result in dependence of our health on ecology, the interactions between all these species, and their environment. We hope the One Health Bengaluru City can bring these ecological dynamics front and center for evidence-guided action for a healthier future.” added Prof. Uma Ramakrishnan, National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS). Dr. Ishtiaq and Prof. Ramakrishnan have been the key drivers of the One Health concept in Bengaluru.

Though the One Health concept has gained priority after the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not limited to only infectious diseases but is a bigger approach to include non-communicable diseases, antimicrobial resistance, environmental health, human-wildlife interfaces, livestock, and so on with the goal of building a unified healthy ecosystem.

Digiqole ad