One Health idea gives Young African fellows new ways to promote health

The idea of One Health – that the health of humans, animals and ecosystems are interconnected—presented new ways to address health challenges for the Mandela Washington Fellows visiting the University of Wisconsin-Madison this summer.

For Webby Phiri, a physician from Zambia, connecting environmental and human health gives him a new way to look at trachoma, a disease that can be spread by flies and lead to blindness. “By the time patients get to the medical side, it can be a bit too late,” says Phiri, one of 25 Mandela Washington Fellows representing 20 African countries who are spending 6 weeks at UW-Madison. Establishing strong relationships with environmental health and medicine could be important connections to battle the world’s top cause of preventable blindness.

Omari Mahiza, another Mandela fellow and physician from Tanzania, was delighted to find that One Health connects his two loves: medicine and farming. “One Health brings together agriculture, medicine and animal health, something I was wishing for for a long time,” says the 33-year-old father of two who is a pediatrician and hospital administrator and also raises chickens, grows garden vegetables and has a 7-acre farm where he harvests coconuts, mangoes and oranges.

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