Workshop exploring zoonotic disease at the human-wildlife-livestock interface
In early February Professor Christl Donnelly organized a workshop, funded by the EU-FP7-funded Predemics project, for 25 participants from 9 countries near Lake Manyara, Tanzania. The theme of the workshop was zoonotic disease and attendees included academics, veterinarians, and individuals from NGOs, research institutes, WHO, CDC and government units. The aim was to strengthen strategic interdisciplinary partnerships to improve the understanding and control of zoonotic diseases.
A plenary talk by Professor Sarah Cleaveland kicked off the meeting speaking about zoonotic diseases and the human-wildlife-livestock interface in Africa. Over the next four days participants further explored this topic with a series of talks covering the challenges of controlling zoonoses in wildlife including One Health and conservation programmes, the impact of wildlife trade and the risks around food safety.
Breakout groups identified burning research questions and control needs for Rabies, Livestock Zoonoses, Zoonoses & the Environment and Vector-Borne Diseases. These group sessions helped evaluate the current situations for these areas and highlighted key concerns. The early findings informed Dragon’s-Den-style pitches for a (sadly fictional!) research grant of $1million. A programme for control of livestock zoonoses which directly consulted the community to identify their concerns, before developing a scalable and sustainable model for control of zoonoses won the day.
You can’t go to Africa and not go on safari: luckily the participants were able to fit in a visit to the Ngorongoro Crater National Park. This beautiful park is home to a huge number of species, including rhinoceros. The safari was followed by a talk by the Director of research at the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, Dr Julius Keyyu, who described the challenges of effective health governance in the context of protected areas and risky cultural practices.
The mix of formal talks and breakout groups explored key topics and allowed time for plenty of discussion and debate. Following the workshop, many participants have made plans to meet again and form new collaborations. There is already talk of a follow-up workshop (funding permitting).
Harriet L. Mills
Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology