OneHealth Program in the Congo Basin

David Santiago
Publié: 02 mars 2022
Dernière modification: 02 mars 2022
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In one of the world's hotspots for zoonotic epidemics, the Congo Basin, WWF Germany has contributed significantly to the establishment of an early warning system for zoonotic pathogen outbreaks.

In two ecotourism sites, Dzanga-Sangha Protected Areas (Central African Republic) and Campo Ma'an National Park (Cameroon), WWF has been following a One Health approach since 2012, which takes into account wildlife and human health as well as intact natural habitats. From the beginning, WWF has been working closely with the Robert Koch-Institute (since 2021: Helmholtz Institute for One Health, HIOH).


The goal of the One Health Program is to establish a health monitoring system for people, wildlife and their habitat that benefits the local population in terms of their health and natural livelihoods. The aim is to rapidly detect the spread of zoonotic pathogens in order to establish an early warning system for disease outbreaks (including Ebola, monkeypox and anthrax).


Afrique occidentale et centrale
Scale of implementation
Forêt de conifères tropicaux
Écosystèmes forestiers
Braconnage et la criminalité environnementale
Gestion des ressources forestières
Gestion et Planification des Aires protégées et conservées
Gouvernance des Aires protégées et conservées
L'intégration de la biodiversité
Moyens d'existence durables
One Health
Santé et bien-être humain
Science et recherche
Sécurité alimentaire
World Heritage
Species Conservation and One Health Interventions
Évaluation du statut de l'espèce
Surveillance de la santé de la faune (pour capturer la biodiversité, la santé, les maladies et la surveillance des agents pathogènes)
Surveillance des espèces et recherche
Espèce Maladie Systèmes d'alerte précoce
Communication des risques, engagement communautaire et changement de comportement
Enquête sur l'épidémie et accès au laboratoire
Mécanisme de coordination One Health
One Health
Santé animale
Lien entre la biodiversité et la santé
Aspects sanitaires liés aux facteurs socio-économiques tels que la pauvreté, l'éducation, les structures de sécurité sociale, digitalisation, les systèmes de financement et le développement des capacités humaines
Maladies tropicales négligées, maladies infectieuses émergentes, maladies non- transmissibles, zoonoses, résistance aux agents antimicrobiens
Commerce des animaux sauvages et conflits homme-animaux sauvages
Dégradation des terres et des forêts
Perte de biodiversité
Maladies vectorielles et hydriques
Utilisations conflictuelles / impacts cumulatifs
Perte de l'écosystème
Récolte non durable, y compris la surpêche
Manque d'autres possibilités de revenu
Extraction de ressources matérielles
Changements dans le contexte socio-culturel
Manque de sécurité alimentaire
Manque d'infrastructures
Chômage / pauvreté
Sustainable development goals
ODD 3 - Bonne santé et bien-être
ODD 12 - Consommation et production responsables
ODD 15 - Vie terrestre
Aichi targets
Objectif 1: Sensibilisation accrue de la biodiversité
Objectif 5: Perte d'habitat réduite de moitié ou diminuée
Objectif 11: Aires protégées et conservées
Objectif 15: Restauration et la résilience des écosystèmes
Objectif 19: Partage de l'information et de la connaissance


Bayanga, Sangha-Mbaéré Economic, Central African Republic | Cameroon
Campo, South, Cameroon


  • Human & Animal Health - In the Congo Basin, people come into close contact with wildlife, through wildlife trade and bushmeat consumption, habitat degradation and ecotourism. This bears the risk of zoonotic spillover events between wildlife and humans. Epidemic outbreaks can threathen human population, as well as animal population (especially rare western lowland gorilla population).

  • Public health infrastructure - Access to care is often very limited.

  • Monitoring & Research - The forests in the Congo Basin harbour some of the world’s deadliest infectious agents such as Ebola viruses and Aanthrax-causing bacteria. Yet, in the those remote areas, we often lack data and infrastructure to set up monitoring systems.

  • Intact natural habitat - Habitats lose their function to act as natural barriers if they disappear through deforestation and degradation due to settlements, road building, clearing for agriculture, timber extraction, mining, wildlife trade.


  • Local and national health care & civil society actors
  • Conservation and ecotourism employees and their families
  • Local and indigenous population
  • International research community
  • Local researchers
  • Ecotourism
  • Habituated wildlife

Comment les blocs constitutifs interagissent-ils entre eux dans la solution?

Monitoring of wildlife and human health as well as sensitisation and training elements are both essential to improve health and wellbeing of people and reduce the risk of disease transmission between people and wildlife with potentially deadly consequences.

This approach has proven successful during the COVID-19 pandemic. While awareness was raised about the unknown disease and preventive mesaures, strict measures had also been taken to protect the habituated gorillas from potential infection. Regular testing for both employees as well as the local population have been undertaken in the field laboratory, health status of apes were closely monitored as part of the early warning system and sensitisation programs were launched to prevent and reduce spreading of the disease within the communities.


In Dzanga-Sangha and Campo Ma'an, the field laboratories and related human resources are integral part of the protected area management. Involvement and targeting of local and indigenous population is a key element, not only in preventing zoonotic diseases, but also in assuring sustainable development and longterm support for conservation in the areas. Which is essential to protect habitats as natural barriers for zoonotic spillovers.


Long before One Health was publicly known, WWF was doing pioneering work in the Congo Basin. Thanks to the field laboratory built in 2012 in Dzanga-Sangha, it is possible to test for for highly infectious diseases such as Ebola or anthrax. The field laboratory in Dzanga-Sangha has been expanded since 2017 and a second field laboratory has been established in Campo Ma'an. Impacts of the WWF One Health Program includes:


Animal health - The laboratory analyses allow regular monitoring of pathogen prevalence in wild animal carcasses and habituated great apes. Health statuts of habituated great apes is continously monitored.


Research - Regular and systematic sampling since 2012 provides WWF and RKI/HIOH with 10 years of data, which is of immense value for long-term studies.


Human Health - The program includes regular health care for employees and their families. Access to health care for the local and indigenous population in the regions is also facilitated.


Public health - Cooperation between local actors has been improved to react quickly in suspected cases of zoonotic diseases. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the laboratory in Dzanga-Sangha was one of two laboratories in the entire CAR that could test for COVID-19.


Capacity building - Two local veterinarians and numerous laboratory assistants have received indepth training.


Thomas Nicolon

Protecting Habituated Great Apes against Corona disease infection

Great Apes are susceptible to human diseases. Strict measures are taken to protect habituated western lowland gorillas to protect them from COVID-19.


Improved access to health care

Human wellbeing and the protection of the rainforest are inextricably linked. WWF supports health care for local and indigenous people through mobile health units, improved access to health care and intervention by health specialists.

Contribué par

Portrait de celine.dillmann_41559

Congo Basin Team - WWF Germany WWF Germany