Reduce incidence of diseases in Kenya that affect humans and livestock
In addition to work by Biovision and its partners in recent years to combat Rift Valley Fever, it is now planned to tackle two other zoonotic diseases (diseases that affect both humans and livestock). Leishmaniosis and brucellosis are widespread in the arid regions of Kenya and represent a major risk to local livestock farmers.
Leishmaniosis cases severe damage to the liver, spleen and bone marrow and if left untreated, it frequently causes death in both humans and animals. In the case of Rift Valley Fever, outbreaks tend to occur after heavy rainfall – there is currently (Spring/Summer 2018) an epidemic in Northern Kenya. In addition to human deaths resulting from a lack of medication and vaccination, the prevalence of stillbirths and deaths in livestock together with a ban on selling meat represent a major problem for people largely dependent upon livestock farming for their livelihood. Similarly, brucellosis causes animals to abort and produces flu-like symptoms in humans, which if left untreated can result in death. In pastoral regions, a large percentage of the human and livestock populations are infected with brucellosis.
A characteristic of all three diseases (Rift Valley Fever, brucellosis and leishmaniosis) is that they can be transmitted from animals to human and vice-versa. However, there is no reliable coordination between the authorities responsible for human health and those responsible for animal health. If an outbreak occurs, this makes it more difficult to identify the disease at an early stage and so it spreads more quickly. A framework regulating the cooperation between different authorities can make a significant contribution to an integrated process for containment and monitoring.
The project seeks to locate the whereabouts of the pathogen promptly, identify risk areas and if outbreaks occur to ensure that a programme of targeted measures (e.g. vaccination campaign for Rift Valley Fever) is carried out by government agencies. It is also important that local people understand what causes the diseases and what they can do to protect themselves from infection. Specially trained Community Health Workers are, therefore, conducting information campaigns.
One Health is an integrated approach to the control of zoonotic diseases. In Northern Kenya, the three diseases represent a major risk to both humans and animals. The disease pathogens are transmitted by insects, meat or raw milk. The One Health approach recognises the fact that the health of humans, animals and the environment are inextricably linked. Until now, each disease has often been treated separately, either as a human or livestock disease, and has ignored the link between them. The control of these diseases, therefore, requires a coordinated, cross-sectoral approach and cooperation between livestock farmers, health professionals, senior community members and officials from the health and veterinary agencies.
Some 2,500 people from two communities will benefit directly, 50% of whom are women. Indirectly, some 20,000 people living in the two large communities where the project is being carried will benefit from better disease recognition and the new knowledge acquired by their neighbours. directly affected.
Objectives of current project phase
- Prevent disease by analysing levels of knowledge of the diseases locally using a KAP analysis (Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices) and providing relevant training
- Develop a framework protocol to improve cooperation between the authorities responsible for animal and human health and so help to identify zoonoses at an early stage.
- Optimise government disease eradication plans
- Evaluation by external experts in order to investigate the possibility of a future phase.
For the last 4 years, Biovision has been helping icipe to set up a mosquito-based, early- warning system for Rift Valley Fever. During the training sessions and surveys conducted at the local level, it was found that the communities also had to cope with other serious diseases: This follow-up project will tackle these diseases.
The local and national authorities (Zoonotic Disease Unit, ZDU) are an integral part of the project. In future they will be able to take on the running of the project activities independently and adapt them to their own disease control plans. Successful cooperation between specialists in the human and animal health sectors will allow the approach to be extended to other communities and counties. The cooperation with the research institute icipe will ensure a speedy transfer of knowledge between the research sector and those working in the field to recognise and treat the diseases.