The Tripartite Guide
Master of Public Health program
Kansas State University
Dr. Ellyn Mulcahy
Master of Public Health
Kansas State University
In March 2019, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), and the World Health Organization (WHO) launched a guide for countries on how to take a One Health approach to addressing zoonotic diseases, entitled Taking a Multisectoral, One Health Approach: A Tripartite Guide to Addressing Zoonotic Diseases in Countries. This guide fills a widely acknowledged, though daunting, void in the One Health field: how to deal with zoonotic disease epidemics in a systemic manner across the globe. A similar, joint publication was written in 2008 by these three agencies (see Zoonotic Diseases: A Guide to Establishing Collaboration between Animal and Human Health Sectors at the Country Level). Given the time lapse and ever-evolving One Health landscape, the FAO, OIE, and WHO collaborated on a new edition. The Tripartite Guide, or TZG, is currently available in English via the OIE, with accompanying tools in the six major UN languages to be unveiled sometime in 2020.
Authors prepared this publication for a wider audience, compatible with alterations based on disease threat, location, and cultural norms. A key feature to highlight is that the authors present these best practices and encourage feedback from those utilizing the guide. One of the authors’ stated goals is for government organizations to implement these structures and reflect upon the findings and lessons learned in order to better help the global community’s ability to respond to these challenges. Moreover, though the guide expressly is written for zoonotic diseases, the authors state that the guidelines mentioned can be implemented in nearly any One Health (public, animal, or environmental) scenario.
The TZG provides guidance on how to build multisectoral, One Health partnerships between diverse sectors of a nation’s government landscape. Everything from determining leadership to defining subgroups and assigning tasks is covered. When the groundwork is laid and systems are in place, monitoring and surveillance are key. In the event of a disease outbreak, the guide helps establish protocol on how to analyze those threats, which parts of the multisectoral system to activate, how to communicate these issues to the public, and how to assess the aftermath. It also provides long-term ideas for how to keep these various sectors actively engaged in disease detection so that when an outbreak occurs, the response is nearly second nature, not rife with uncertainties.
Although the guide focuses on emergency procedures—for example, what to do when facing a dire zoonotic situation—it provides guidance for how to mobilize the various parts of the public and private sectors necessary to respond to a public, animal, or environmental crisis. This theoretical framework enables governments across the globe to adapt and implement the One Health approach and advance these types of networks as routine practices.
As the TZG aims to create an all-encompassing publication to guide stakeholders in their community decision-making, several questions remain: to whom does this guide go? Who becomes the point-person or agency to begin making these monumental changes to the basic paradigm of threat assessment and strategy within a government? While the TZG is intended to be adaptable to any country, this same adaptability has the potential to stymie progress.
Labeling a single, definitive owner and overseer for this type of paradigm shift would be the best way to ensure these changes happen. It is yet to be seen how the global community will adopt the TZG but it is an advancement in making One Health a prevalent integrative systems thinking tool. In order to deal with the complicated health issues in a changing world, more holistic, multilevel, and interrelated systems of thought, like this guide, are needed.
Explore the TZG for yourself on the OIE website or here: