Skip to Main Navigation
FEATURE STORYApril 18, 2024

Guyana's 'One Health' Approach: A Blueprint for a Healthier Future

The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the vital role of health emergency planning and preparedness. In the midst of these trying times, Guyana, a small South American nation, has stood out for its resilience and proactive planning for health security. The country has embraced a unique 'One Health' agenda, a significant stride toward establishing robust systems that will shield its population from future pandemics, sparking optimism for a healthier future.

In November 2020, the World Bank approved a grant of US $7.5 million for Guyana's COVID-19 Emergency Response Project. This support was aimed at helping Guyana fight the pandemic and strengthen its health system. As a result of World Bank support, Guyana has enhanced laboratory capacity, supported screening and surveillance, improved contact tracing, equipped healthcare facilities to provide better treatment and care for COVID-19 patients, and prepared for the deployment of a safe and approved COVID-19 vaccine. In June 2021, the World Bank approved additional financing of US $ 5 million from the World Bank’s International Development Association – the arm of the Bank which provides grants and low-interest loans - and a grant of US$ 1 million from the Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Trust Fund, which has been instrumental in catalyzing efforts on advancing One Health. The project ended in March 2024.

Recognizing the global significance of collaboration in addressing health challenges, Guyana’s health ministry has not only allocated funds but also fostered a sense of unity by working in tandem with various agencies. These include the Ministry of Finance and the Guyana Livestock Development Authority, as well as international bodies such as the World Health Organization/Pan American Health Organization, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Organization for Animal Health, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, and the Centro Panamericano de Fiebre Aftosa y Salud Pública Veterinaria (PANAFTOSA/SPV). This collective effort is aimed at implementing the ambitious ‘One Health’ initiative not just at the national level, but also progressively at the regional and local levels, setting a global example.

The 'One Health' program adopts a multistakeholder approach and is dedicated to enhancing Guyana’s ability to prevent and prepare for current and future health challenges which emerge from the human-animal-environment interface. The country’s leadership strongly believes that this can only be achieved through improved collaboration and coordination across governance frameworks. Guyana remains committed to leading the way and remains steadfast in its mission to create a healthier tomorrow, together.

The Ministry of Health convened a high-level meeting with the World Bank and other stakeholders to discuss the progress made toward implementing the 'One Health' agenda. Guyana's Health Minister, Dr. Frank Anthony, expressed his gratitude to the World Bank for its support. He acknowledged that the Bank's assistance had helped enhance his country's capacity to prepare for a pandemic by implementing an early warning system and strengthening readiness to respond. Dr. Anthony also noted that the World Bank had demonstrated flexibility by adjusting its systems to address the crisis, which was greatly appreciated.

During the recent meeting, there were discussions on the importance of investing in One Health and the vision for Guyana, which is to support national and sub-national prevention, preparedness, and health system resilience. Additionally, attendees were briefed on the key findings of the Joint External Evaluation and Voluntary External Evaluation of core capabilities for Guyana, as well as its complementary Performance of Veterinary Service assessment. The plan to carry out a deep dive on Food Safety was also presented. The audience had an opportunity to share their perspectives on defining the next steps for the implementation of the National Action Plan for Health Security.

According to Ms. Federica Secci, World Bank Senior Health Specialist with responsibility for the technical dialogue on health in Guyana, the country serves as an example of breaking the cycle of “panic and neglect” through targeted and long-term investments in relation to the 'One Health' strategy. Ms Secci praised the program, saying, "Guyana has been the country in the Latin America and the Caribbean region to really use the pandemic as an opportunity to start shifting mindsets to manage risks in a more coordinated way at the human-animal-environment interface."

At the global level, the World Bank's mission includes resiliency to climate and biodiversity crises, pandemics, and fragility, not as an add-on but as a central element. Guyana's 'One Health' approach serves as a blueprint for other nations to follow in the quest for a healthier future. With robust planning, collaboration, and investment, it is possible to create a better-prepared world for future health challenges coming from the environment, animal, or human sphere.


    loader image


    loader image