The Ohio State University Global One Health initiative (GOHi) has been awarded $5.61 million in funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and bolster Ethiopia’s public health system capacity for small- and large-scale disease outbreaks and emergencies.
Since 2009, GOHi has been on the front lines in Ethiopia working with in-country partners to strengthen capacity using a One Health approach — one that brings together multiple disciplines working globally to address the spread of disease, promote health and emphasize the connection among humans, animals, plants and the environment.
As new diseases emerge, the need for health system preparedness across the globe is vital for nations to prevent spread of pathogens, detect and report epidemics, and respond to and mitigate the spread of those epidemics. The current COVID-19 pandemic urgently underscored these needs. Under-preparedness in one country is a global risk to all.
“This award exemplifies the critical importance of focusing on public health, which is a global issue and very timely,” said Grace Wang, executive vice president for research, innovation and knowledge. “By harnessing the capability of Ohio State’s world-class research faculty, we are working to find innovative solutions to global challenges and are pleased to partner with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Ethiopia’s public health system.”
With this award, GOHi aims to address three specific focus areas in order to achieve International Health Regulation standards and benchmarks; strengthen surveillance, laboratory and workforce capacity; improve data management; and develop a well-linked response network for disease outbreaks and public health emergencies.
“Right now, the world needs a major effort to strengthen surveillance, laboratory and workforce capabilities,” said Wondwossen Gebreyes, GOHi executive director. “The GOHi consortium on campus along with global partners are committed to tackling the world’s toughest health challenges at the interface of humans, animals, plants and the environment, including COVID-19. The impact of this work will save lives while we continue to fight this pandemic. It will also have a lasting impact on prevention and control of future zoonotic viral and drug resistant bacterial infections among others.”
GOHi, with participation from Ohio State’s College of Medicine, College of Public Health and College of Veterinary Medicine and additional faculty support from the College of Arts and Sciences and College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, will partner with the Ethiopian Public Health Institute and in-country Regional Health Bureaus to accomplish the project.
“It is very exciting to receive this award, which has come at the right time, when we need it the most,” said Getnet Yimer, regional director, Global One Health Eastern Africa Office. “We are committed to continue working with all partners and the government agencies to sustain our gains and achieve beyond the planned milestones.”
Over the next five years, the project will expand the number of laboratories with the ability to test and report Influenza-like illnesses and severe acute respiratory illnesses, like COVID-19; train health professionals and laboratory staff on better specimen collection and transportation techniques; improve data collection and reporting and implementation of appropriate mitigation measures for severe respiratory illnesses based on that data; support equipment procurement; and improve quality management throughout the laboratory network to ensure consistent, reliable quality testing.
The ultimate goal will be to enhance and expand the Ethiopian public health system to more comprehensively and efficiently manage the multiple elements that contribute to epidemics of global (national and international) concern.
This project serves as an example of institutional teamwork that advances the university’s commitment as a global institution, engaging in meaningful and beneficial partnerships to gain and share knowledge and find sustainable solutions to the world’s most complex issues.