Ecosystem approaches to the better management of Zoonotic emerging infectious diseases in the Southeast Asia region
Concern about emerging infectious diseases is growing. The current novel strain of influenza virus, A (H1N1), dubbed ‘swine flu’ although it is passed directly from person to person, is but the latest worrisome outbreak of a new pathogen, coming on the heels of SARS, Nipah and bird flu, all of which are ‘zoonotic’ (transmissible between animals and people), reminding us of the need for understanding disease emergence and most effective actions to detect and control emerging pathogens. An ecosystem approach to human health was pioneered by Canada's International Development Research Centre more than a decade ago. This multi-disciplinary field of study investigates how changes in the earth's ecosystems are impacting human health so as to prevent new diseases from emerging, particularly by building more equitable and less ecologically damaging agricultural production systems.
Applying an ‘ecohealth’ framework has improved our understanding of the web of social, economic and ecological dimensions of infectious diseases and the importance of engaging local actors in preventing and controlling them.
ILRI is leading implementation of an ecohealth project in Southeast Asia. In this project, ILRI is learning from as well as supporting researchers, disease control agents and other key actors in the battle against zoonotic disease in this region.
ILRI researchers are interested in using ecohealth research to improve understanding of the emergence of zoonoses and to test the appropriateness of responses to these new threats. The project team aims to provide a better understanding of the special risks and impacts of emerging zoonoses on the poor and of the best options for preventing and controlling them within this region’s small-scale livestock-keeping communities.
About the Project
This project, Ecosystem Approaches to the Better Management of Zoonotic Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Southeast Asia Region, or EcoZD for short, is linking, working with, and building capacity in multi-disciplinary research groups in six pilot countries: Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Thailand, Viet Nam and China (Yunnan Province). ILRI is coordinating the set of pilot research projects in these countries, facilitating learning across the projects, and helping translate the knowledge gained into feasible policies and actions.
Running until 2013, EcoZD supports all costs related to research studies undertaken in this project. During the project’s preparatory phase (mid-2009), national researchers are working with relevant decision-makers in disease control as well as with local communities.
ILRI and its technical partners support the research teams from the design phase of their studies to their final communications in such formats as policy briefs, conference presentations and peer-reviewed articles.To complement existing projects in the SE Asia region on emerging infectious diseases, EcoZD may support research into endemic or neglected, as well as emerging, zoonoses if the former are deemed high-priority issues by national decision-makers and local communities.
EcoZEID links the national research teams in each of its six pilot countries through regular workshops and virtual work spaces and discussion forums. Regional networking is enhanced by close links to the [http:www.apeiresearch.net/| Asian Partnership on Emerging Infectious Diseases Research], the [http:www.mbdsoffice.com/| Mekong Basin Disease Surveillance network] (MBDS) and other relevant bodies and sectors (e.g., agriculture, land use, conservation).
In terms of technical inputs, ILRI is providing expertise in animal health, veterinary public health, risk assessment, geographic information systems, modelling and socioeconomics. MBDS and the [http:www.swisstph.ch/| Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute] (formerly Swiss Tropical Institute) are providing the project with their public health expertise. APEIR researchers are in a position to provide valuable local knowledge in respect to animal health, public health, & socio-economics; [http:www.vwb-vsf.ca/| Veterinarians Without Borders–Canada] is providing expertise in ecohealth approaches.
Tools, methods, approaches and lessons used or generated and found useful by EcoZD will be disseminated to South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa to support development of similar projects in these regions