The JRA OT provides a step-wise approach for joint qualitative risk assessment
A multisectoral, One Health approach is necessary to address complex health threats at the human-animal-environment interface. Since 2017, the Tripartite (FAO-OIE-WHO) has led a technical area working group for the development and pilot of the Joint Risk Assessment Operational Tool (JRA OT), an implementation tool associated with the Tripartite Zoonoses Guide. The JRA OT was designed to support countries in applying a consistent and harmonized approach to assessing risks posed by zoonotic disease hazards.
Between 2018 and 2020, the JRA OT was piloted in 19 countries in all six WHO regions, and this included two regional training of trainers in Senegal and Tunisia. Following iterative refinement and improvement, the JRA OT offers decision-makers and technical experts a 10-step approach to create a system for conducting joint qualitative risk assessments. Results of the JRA OT are used to support policy communication, risk mitigation, and improved planning and preparedness for zoonotic diseases, contributing to health security at the national, regional, and global levels.
Creating a hybrid model for conducting JRA OTs in-country as a response to implementation challenges brought on by COVID19
Despite the successful use of the JRA OT in country pilots, the COVID-19 pandemic has complicated the ability to provide facilitation support for in-country engagement. But ironically, the zoonotic nature of COVID-19 has made JRA OT more relevant and needed than ever. The JRA OT tripartite secretariat mobilized to identify opportunities for virtual facilitation and hybrid models – i.e. combining on-site participation and remote online support – for conducting JRA in country. This process led to the development of a freely available JRA OT online facilitators training, pre-recorded video presentations, and the use of communication platforms like Whatsapp, Zoom, and Jamboard for working group activities.
First hybrid JRA workshop was conducted in Egypt, October 2020
The first hybrid JRA workshop was conducted in Egypt in October 2020 with around 20 participants present on site and remote support from the Tripartite. This hybrid facilitation was designed to meet country policies for COVID-19 and was supported by EMRO colleagues based in Egypt. Participants were requested to take the online training JRA OT: A Training for Implementers prior to joining for the first day of the workshop, and pre-recorded presentations allowed facilitators from Headquarters (HQ) to be involved as needed. Real-time question and answer sessions were organized with facilitators from HQ, and simultaneous translation was provided. A Whatsapp group ensured that in-country, and EMRO facilitators were always connected with HQ and could be supported timely upon request.
Second hybrid JRA workshop was conducted in Indonesia, December 2020
The same approach was further adapted for a series of workshops held in Indonesia in December 2020. To minimise the risk of COVID-19 exposure, 50 participants from national and subnational levels selected across ministries were divided into three ‘batches’. Facilitators from FAO and WHO country offices provided in-person facilitation and were supported as requested by HQ facilitators with live and pre-recorded presentations, and technical inputs during question and answer sessions.
Planning for the future – Refining virtual materials and resources for better implementation
Observational evaluation of these two newly developed hybrid approaches show that virtual materials and online engagement can support effective use of the JRA OT. However, it remains important for country and regional offices from across the tripartite to feel well supported. The use of additional technologies such as freely available online trainings and applications (Whatsapp, Zoom, and Jamboard), allow in-country and HQ facilitators to coordinate efficiently through real-time communication. This collaboration between FAO, OIE, and WHO in jointly implemented activities is unique and highly valued by countries in their effort to strengthen their multisectoral, One Health approach.