LIDC has led a multidisciplinary team of world-class institutions specialised in animal and human diseases to produce a study ‘Prioritising the need for new diagnostics or treatments of zoonoses which have significant impact in the developing world’. The study was commissioned by the UK Department of International Development (DFID) to help prioritise their work in managing the risk of zoonotic diseases (infectious diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans, and vice versa) in emerging livestock systems in low and middle income countries (LMICs).
LIDC was chosen through a competitive bidding process to coordinate the study produced in partnership with experts from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), Policy Cures and Chatham House. A grant of £67,000 was awarded to the Royal Veterinary College, part of the LIDC consortium of colleges, to produce the study.
The report, available for free download, collates information on existing diagnostics, drugs, vaccines and management practices for 20 selected zoonotic diseases, identifying gaps in research and knowledge, and providing evidence for use of innovative technologies and management practices for control of zoonoses, particularly in Asia and Africa. The findings and recommendations will be used to inform the future DFID research programme on zoonoses in LMICs.
Socio-economic factors underpin the management of zoonotic disease
Zoonotic diseases are highly diverse in terms of the biological, epidemiological and socio-economic factors that drive disease systems affecting the poor in LMICs. There is growing evidence that zoonotic disease management benefits from an approach involving interventions across animal, health and environment sectors but sometimes it is only feasible or appropriate to intervene in one or other sector.
Examining the socio-economic and policy context of zoonoses, the report finds that the environmental association with zoonoses remains the biggest challenge and is most important for long-term control or elimination of threats. Underlying causes related to poverty, insufficient infrastructure and lack of capacity have prevented health systems in LMICs from addressing zoonoses effectively.
Effective interventions are context-dependent
The study suggests an integrative approach to tackling zoonoses, with good management practices being the main success factor. A situation-specific approach is recommended to capture disease- and context-specific factors which drive disease emergence and persistence. In general, drugs are most efficient in tackling parasitic diseases, while vaccines work better against viral infections. However, antimicrobial resistance and adequacy of available vaccines need to be considered. The report calls for better diagnostics as a necessary pre-requisite for effective treatment.