West African One Health actions for understanding, preventing, and mitigating outbreaks
Human pressure on the environment and climate change have increased the possibility for multi-species contact, zoonosis (the transmission of disease between animals and humans), and the emergence of infectious pathogens and outbreaks. This includes Ebola virus disease and Lassa fever, which have created serious challenges in West Africa. Their recurrence poses multifaceted threats in the region, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impacts.
This project will accelerate and expand actions to prevent and mitigate infectious disease outbreaks at community and national levels across West Africa with a deeper knowledge of socio-ecological drivers, impacts, and solutions at the human-animal-environment interface. This is known as the One Health approach.
The research will be conducted in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, and Nigeria by an international and multidisciplinary consortium. Gender-responsive, mixed methods will be used, including remote sensing, machine learning, and qualitative methods, to determine relationships between changing demographics, land-use patterns, and emerging pathogens. This will strengthen modelling and prediction of disease hotspots. It will also enrich understanding of the animal-human-animal transitional processes of disease emergence.
The research teams will describe and differentiate between the four countries regarding the impacts of COVID-19, Lassa fever, and Ebola virus disease on livelihoods, health systems, gender equality, ecosystems, socio-cultural practices, and food security. Gender-transformative community action groups will be developed to innovate with agricultural and social practices to monitor and mitigate against zoonoses and emerging pathogens. At the national level, the project aims to develop multisectoral, One Health governance structures that can develop environmental and agricultural policies to mitigate against disease emergence and transmission and related risks to food security and social inequities.