Teaching/learning case study for OneHealth approach in zoonotic disease: case of Kyasanur Forest Disease collaborations

With collaborations across various Indian institutions representing human health, animal health and ecologists, and led by Beth Purse from the UK Center for Ecology & Hydrology, the MonkeyFeverRisk has published a case study that can be used for teaching/learning on how to apply the inter-sectoral lens that OneHealth approach urges us to use. The case study is openly available for download (as PDF) or online reading from CABI digital library.

What were the key components of the ecosystem approach? Essentially it boils down to the need for multiple methods/methodologies across scientific/professional disciplines to work together; but OneHealth in action is not only about scientific methods and disciplines; it is also about the different sectors to work together. Human health, animal health, wildlife health are typically having their own line departments with their own separate reporting systems, bureaucracies & procedures. One of the efforts in the project was to bring together sectoral actors together using Kyasanur Forest Disease as an example of a zoonotic disease that could benefit from such inter-sectoral action.

A lot of what we call risk factors are actually behaviours, experiences and options that people would like to choose either for social, economic or cultural reasons. Their identification as risk factors for example does not mean that we can automatically get people to change what/how they do things. Many of these risk factors are closely related to livelihoods, and often entangled with various social vulnerabilities, so the project also examined how these wider social systems and vulnerabilities shape individual action and behaviour.

One of the outputs was a predictive tool that uses multiple data and previous occurrences to predict possible locations at risk for outbreaks. Of particular interest to me of course were various pieces of work that examine how social and systemic vulnerability tends to make some individuals, populations and demographies more at risk to get the illness than others.

Hopefully health systems can adapt some of these lessons to better contextualise their interventions than the blanket biomedical response that is currently in place (see for example one of the papers that examined the ecological evidence-base (or lack thereof!) underlying some of the current disease control practices).

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