In the latest issue of the IDS rapid response briefing series, authors from the Dynamic Drivers of Disease in Africa Consortium explore the benefits of developing a more joined up approach to tackling zoonoses.
Zoonoses are animal diseases that are transmissible to humans such as SARS and Ebola, and include human diseases that have emerged from animal diseases such as HIV/AIDS and smallpox. The rate at which zoonotic diseases have appeared in people has increased over the past 40 years.
There have been at least 43 newly identified outbreaks since 2004 and in 2012 outbreaks included Ebola in Uganda, yellow fever in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rift Valley fever (RVF) in Mauritania.
Poor people are disproportionately affected by zoonoses. In low-income countries, 20% of human sickness and death is due to zoonoses. To address this, the authors of this new briefing stress that development implications must be factored into disease planning and response strategies.They argue that this can be achieved by adopting a 'One Health' approach to tackling zoonoses. 'One Health' is a globally recognised approach established to promote the collaborative effort of multiple disciplines, working locally, nationally and globally, to attain optimal health for people, animals and the environment.
To coincide with the launch of the briefing, IDS fellow and briefing co-author Professor Melissa Leach interviewed Dr Donald Grant, chief physician of the Lassa ward at the Kenema Government Hospital in Sierra Leone.