NEOH working group meetings
NEOH aimed to generate, exchange and disseminate new interdisciplinary knowledge (conceptual and technical) and to promote interdisciplinary skills and collaboration. To promote interdisciplinary collaboration, it was important that members agreed on a common understanding of what One Health means and how it can be evaluated. This required members to define, in a coherent and interdisciplinarily plausible and understandable manner, the context in which the global challenges can be described and analysed and consideration of procedural recommendations, harmonisation of methods and data in order to make them accessible for meta-analysis.
To promote this process, all Working Groups (WG) were formed with an interdisciplinary composition, with a mix of social and natural sciences across sectors. The aim of the WG meetings was to plan and follow-up on WG activities, work towards the NEOH objectives, exchange knowledge, build relationships and promote interdisciplinary skills by learning from each other.
WG 2 meeting: Novi Sad, Serbia, 28th June 2016
On the 28th of June 2016, a WG2 meeting took place in Novi Sad, Serbia. The purpose of the meeting was to review the WG activities to date and agree on next steps for the application of the One Health evaluation handbook to a set of case studies. Participants were welcomed warmly by the local organiser, Dr Sara Savic. After that the consortium vice-chair, Prof. Maurizio Aragrande, gave an introductory presentation to remind people of the NEOH rationale, to outline what had been achieved since the start of the Action and important factors to bear in mind for the evaluation. This was followed by an overview of the evaluation handbook given by Dr Simon Rüegg followed by a discussion on key questions regarding conceptual coherence, knowledge gaps and additional inputs needed. Afterwards, 10 presentations were given by case study leaders to introduce their case studies as well as evaluation questions and/or designs.
Finally, there was a discussion on details of the evaluations planned and a roadmap was outlined. A total of up to 18 case studies are planned with the aim to present their outcomes at the next general meeting in Malta in January 2017. The WG meeting was followed by a training school on evaluation with a particular focus on the application of the handbook.
The programme can be downloaded here: http://neoh.onehealthglobal.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2015/03/NEOH-WG2-meeting-and-TS_16-June-2016.pdf
WG 1 meeting: Cluj-Napoca, Romania, 23rd of June 2015
The second WG meeting gathered WG1 members to discuss progress to date with the development of the One Health Evaluation Handbook. It took place on the 23rd of June 2015 at the University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine Cluj-Napoca in Romania just before the first training school. The WG1 Meeting was attended by 22 people from mainly WG1, but also from WG2-4 because of the connected nature of the NEOH work plan. The programme can be found here and presentations can be accessed on the network document management system Alfresco (member access only).
The meeting was structured around the development of the NEOH handbook. Each chapter leader or a representative gave an overview of the work conducted so far and available content and raised relevant points for discussions. Small group discussions took place after the presentations to revisit overall conceptual coherence, knowledge gaps and additional inputs needed and to prepare a plan for the finalization of the chapters.
At the beginning of the meeting, participants were welcomed warmly by WG1 leaders Prof. Jakob Zinsstag from the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute and Dr Simon Rüegg from the University of Zürich (Switzerland) as well as the chair of the network, Dr Barbara Häsler, Royal Veterinary College (United Kingdom) and the local organiser, Dr Andrei Mihalca, University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine (Romania).
- In the session on “Evaluation of approaches to health with a focus on One Health” Prof Jonathan Rushton, Royal Veterinary College (United Kingdom), discussed critical dimensions of One Health (multispecies, multisectorial, temporal and spatial dynamics), the challenges arising when dealing with such multiple dimensions, and how the dimensions could be structured using a matrix. He also provided an overview of existing relevant evaluations (e.g. the global burden of disease study) and raised questions about parameterisation and data availability. He concluded asking how NEOH could make sure to add value to target users and the community and whether NEOH should place itself with current relevant initiatives.
- The presentation prepared by Prof Richard Kock, Royal Veterinary College (United Kingdom) on the “Description of health approaches as separated or integrated leading towards theoretical foundations of integrated health approaches” covered differences between health definitions and outlined scope for integration across health sectors. It was emphasised that One Health convergence would strengthen the feasibility of more integrated approaches to health and help develop the theoretical framework for a “structural One Health”, where the description of structural issues related to the broader context of disease builds a basis upon which the practical aspect of interdisciplinary action can bear fruit.
- Drs Simon Rüegg and Barbara Häsler led a combined session on the “One Health evaluation framework and protocol”. They started their session by exploring how One Health links to complexity science before moving on to discuss what evaluation means and what protocols are available and suitable for the purpose of the network. They presented a possible way to capture the complexity of One Health in a tabular format looking at the type of One Health initiative, the number of people involved, stakeholders, geographical extension, involved disciplines, financing and time scope. The resulting complexity score may provide a starting point to provide guidance on the selection of qualitative (e.g. case studies, reviews, system mapping) and quantitative methods (e.g. randomised experiments, regression analysis, performance measurement) relevant for the evaluation of One Health,
- Dr Martijn Bouwknegt, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (the Netherlands) provided an overview of methods (e.g. ecological assessment, cost-benefit analysis, risk assessment) that are available and useful when evaluating One Health focusing on the environment, humans and animals. He emphasised that it was important not to repeat information available in standard textbooks, but to explain what the value would be of different methods in a One Health evaluation context considering core principles, state-of-the-art approaches, data requirements, benefits and potential shortfalls.
After a break, participants met in small groups to discuss next activities for individual chapters. Finally, everybody met again for a plenary session to discuss the handbook concept map and timeline for finalization of the first complete handbook draft. During this discussion, the importance of considering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was highlighted. SDGs health goals aim to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages with targets covering the existing health millennium development goals to non-communicable diseases, mental health, substance abuse, road traffic accidents, family planning, universal health coverage, and pollution. Moreover, participants talked about different evaluation angles that could be pursued (e.g. evaluating the capacity of programme to solve a problem vs. evaluating the strength of a collaboration vs. evaluating the outcome of a programme) and what this would mean in terms of scale and target users. A proposal was made on how to structure collaborative efforts in a matrix to move from a simple approach to a more systemic one. There was agreement that the evaluation of One Health should allow to demonstrate whether an initiative is working and whether things could be done in a better way.
The discussions continued in the evening when participants socialised over a relaxing networking dinner with beautiful views of Cluj and its surrounding hills.
Following the WG1 meeting, a three day Training School on “Evaluation: Best practice approaches and applications in multiple disciplines” took place. The training school provided ample opportunities to learn and engage with different evaluation concepts and research methods in other disciplines. WG meetings and training schools take place regularly throughout the NEOH programme and are available for all network participants.
WG 1-4 inaugural meetings: London, UK, 29th-30th January 2015
The first WG meetings of all four WGs took place took place at the Royal Veterinary College in Hatfield (London area) on the 29th and 30th January 2015 in combination with the second NEOH management committee meeting. About 50 participants from all over Europe came together to get to know each other, learn about the network, and make detailed plans for the WG activities. In the plenary sessions general information about the network, WG progress to date, COST rules and participation, financial and administrative procedures and reporting were communicated (for details, please see the agenda). Moreover, participants had the opportunity to discuss their WG objectives, progress to date, plans, roles and responsibilities in dedicated WG sessions. They made the most out of it – discussions were lively and stimulating, ideas were coming from all directions and perspectives and good progress was made. Participants also met and talked informally with each other during the reception/networking event and animated conversations continued over dinner! The event provided a good opportunity to establish a solid basis for fruitful and productive working relationships and to consolidate ideas and plans for the network.