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‘Ecohealth’ approaches linking human and environmental health in Kenya

Mother, child and cows outside their homestead in Busia, Kenya

Mother, child and the family cows outside their homestead in Busia, Kenya (photo credit: ILRI/Charlie Pye-Smith).

‘Many key health challenges like Malaria in Kenya can only be managed through the integrated approach that links environment to human health, experts say.

‘According to researchers attending the Ecohealth2014 in Montreal, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for health challenges like malaria and animal diseases.

‘According to Delia Grace, a veterinary epidemiologist and programme manager at the Nairobi-based the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), there is already proven transmission of diseases between animals and human beings.

“We can no longer look at human health in isolation from the environment which people live,” she told The Star in Montreal.

ILRI is leading most ecohealth approaches in Kenya, in collaboration with the International Development Research Centre, a Canadian corporation that supports research in developing countries, and has regional offices in Nairobi.

‘Institutions across the world are increasingly adopting ecohealth approaches to tackle diseases and effects of climate change.

Delia noted ILRI is currently conducting training of meat inspectors in Uganda to prevent transmission of diseases from pigs to people.

A farm sampling carried last year out on more than 1,200 pig-rearing households in Uganda found presence of African swine fever, brucellosis, cysticercosis, diamond skin disease, intestinal helminths, salmonellosis, sarcoptic mange, toxoplasmosis and trichinosis.

“We are also looking at value chain addition, training dairy farmers on improved farming methods to produce more using less space and implements,” she said. . . .

‘Ecohealth approaches are scientifically proven to be effective in addressing human health challenges across the world. . . .

‘Ecohealth is a field of research, education and practice that integrates scientific evidence, professional expertise and community experience with a view to improving the health of humans, animals and ecosystems.

‘The conference statement, released at the end of the week-long meeting, also noted that links between human and animal health will be critical in the face of climate change.

“A focus on health—across humans, animals and other species—offers new opportunities to harness synergies across disparate efforts to address climate change,” said the statement.’

Read the whole article at The Star (Kenya): Ecohealth best way to stop malaria in Kenya—Experts, 29 Aug 2014.

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