Agriculture and health have for too long been viewed in isolation.
It is now evident that decoupled policies and interventions are not responding adequately to global nutrition and health needs. The ‘agri-health’ approach is an integrated response to addressing pressing global issues such as under nutrition and its health effects; agriculture- and food-related diseases; the effects of agricultural productivity on population health; and food security.
Consolidated ‘agri-health’ interventions are being successfully implemented all over the world, for example to increase the nutritional value of crops or to reduce the risk of zoonotic disease. However, the effects of these interventions are not measured in a systematic, integrated way. Evaluation of agri-health interventions is still largely performed in isolation: for instance, agricultural and health economists use different measurement methods that are not compatible with each other, thus making it difficult to capture a full range of effects.
In response to these challenges, close to 100 leading academics and practitioners from all over the world gathered in London on 12 May and 13 May to explore ‘Measuring the effects of Agri-Health interventions’ at an international workshop organised by the Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health (LCIRAH) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). The aim of the workshop was to encourage health and agriculture specialists to cooperate on developing integrated agri-health evaluation methods.
Day one of the workshop featured a discussion of existing metrics and methods together with their value and limitations, with experts from academic institutions such as the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Imperial College London and the School of Oriental and African Studies. A range of case studies illustrated the practical application of these methods in different contexts: using food consumption data to assess nutrition and health in Malawi; nutrition and health effect of homestead food production in Cambodia; the challenge of measuring effects of adopting healthy diet recommendations.
Day two focused on practice and policy aspects of measuring food security and nutritional outcomes, with perspectives offered by practitioners and policy-makers, including from the World Bank and the UK Department for International Development (DFID).
Jeff Waage, Director of the London International Development Centre (LIDC) and Chair of the Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health (LCIRAH), said:
‘This discussion happened at a pivotal time. In a world of rising food prices, an increased demand for food from the growing global population and spreading zoonotic and agriculture-related diseases, scientists from across disciplines and policy-makers must work together. We must find common ways of measuring the effect of agri-health interventions and using the data as evidence in policy and practice. Our two-day workshop was an important step towards developing ‘a common language’ and shared tools, and overcoming a range of institutional and cultural barriers.’
The Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health (LCIRAH)
is a new initiative established under a five-year £3.5m grant from The Leverhulme Trust to build a new inter-sectoral and interdisciplinary platform for integrating research in agriculture and health, with a focus on international development goals. This Centre is enabling researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, School of Oriental and African Studies, School of Pharmacy, Royal Veterinary College and their partners, to work together to develop unifying research approaches and methodologies that integrate agricultural and health research. LCIRAH is hosted and supported by LIDC.More about LCIRAH
Download the speakers’ presentations (pdf) - click on the name below
Session 1: Measurement of health effects of agri-health interventions
Mike Kelly, Director, Public Health Excellence Centre, National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). ‘Population approaches to preventing cardiovascular disease: the role of food, farming and agriculture’
, Professor of Health Economics, University of Aberdeen ‘Measuring effects of agri-health interventions: A role for Contingent Valuation and Discrete Choice Experiments?’
, Research Fellow, University of Birmingham ‘Evaluating outcomes using the capability approach: theory and applications’
, Professor of Health Economics, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine ‘Evaluating health outcomes using DALYs and QUALYs”
, Associate Program Officer, Agricultural Development, Bill and & Melinda Gates Foundation
Session 2: Case Studies in Agri-Health
, Professor of International Food Economics and Rural Development, University of Goettingen ‘Using food consumption data to assess nutrition and health impacts of interventions: An example from Malawi’
, Country Director, Cambodia, and Regional Food Security Advisor, Helen Keller International; and Deanna Olney, Research Fellow, International Food Policy Research Institute ‘Nutrition and health effects of homestead food production in Cambodia’
Karen Lock and Marcus Keogh-Brown
, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine ‘The challenges of measuring health, agricultural and economic effects of adopting healthy diet recommendations'
Session 3: Measurement of food security and nutritional outcomes
, Senior Nutrition Advisor, Department for International Development, Food security and nutritional outcomes: Evidence needs for policy’
‘The workshop was quite impressive and informative. It brought it to the fore more than before, that much work is still ahead for real and measurable progress to be made, in the drive for reorientation of human diets for the prevention of nutrition related diseases. The meeting also focussed the new roles expected from agriculture, nutrition and health professionals that must establish a common forum for regular meetings and harmonization of initiatives.’
Godwin Oyedele Oyediji Ph.D, Registrar/ CEO, Nigerian Institute of Animal Science
‘The workshop was extremely useful. It provided a comprehensive snapshot of the conceptual, theoretical and empirical background of the subject and its importance for the future of populations, especially in poorer communities. It made me up to date regarding the thinking and trends taking place on the subject in academia and the donor community.’
Veena Rao, Government of Karnataka, India