Researchers say One Health only way to tackle animal-to-human diseases

Published on 14 June 2017

Infectious diseases traceable to animals are driven by climate change, land-use change and the massive expansion of towns and cities, according to contributors to a paper in a major new output from the Dynamic Drivers of Disease in Africa Consortium, a STEPS Centre (IDS/University of Sussex) led project.

One Health for a Changing World: zoonoses, ecosystems and human well-being is a Special Issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. It is co-edited by Professor Ian Scoones, Director of the STEPS Centre, Professor Andrew Cunningham of ZSL (Zoological Society of London) and Professor James Wood of the University of Cambridge.

The intersections of human, animal and ecosystem health lie at the heart of One Health for a Changing World, which explores the One Health approach to tackling animal-to-human (zoonotic) disease transmission. One Health rests on the principle that the health of humans, animals and ecosystems are interdependent.

One Health for a Changing World showcases the results of the four-year multidisciplinary Drivers of Disease project, which was funded under the Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation programme.

Rise of zoonoses

The Special Issue of 12 papers includes, among others, papers considering:

  • The humans forces that lie behind the rise and spread of many zoonotic diseases, including Ebola, Lassa fever and trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness)
  • How zoonotic diseases conspire to keep poor people poor in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • A new integrative ‘3Ps’ approach to modelling for One Health, combining process, pattern and participatory modelling.
  • The growing threat to wildlife conservation from infectious diseases.
  • The failure of facility-based surveillance in West Africa.

Authors include IDS Director Professor Melissa Leach, who led the Drivers of Disease project, and Dr Hayley MacGregor, co-lead of IDS’s Health & Nutrition Research Cluster.

Melissa’s paper explores the implications for human health of local interactions between disease, ecosystems and livelihoods. Hayley’s paper discusses the value of considering cross-cultural insights from anthropology that focus on human-animal engagement as a form of social relationship.

STEPS Centre researchers are continuing their work exploring zoonoses with Livestock, Livelihoods and Health and the Myanmar Pig Partnership. Both are funded under the ZELS programme.

All One Health for a Changing World: zoonoses, ecosystems and human well-being articles are free and online.

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