The inception phase of the Initiative involved extensive research, assessments and stakeholder engagement. This was followed by identifying priority issues that needed to be addressed in order to bring about greater improvement of public health, livestock health and sustainable development in peri-urban livestock farms. The conviction being that only once this was done would the stage be set for policy-relevant research.
Once the inception phase got over, the findings helped inform the proposed research studies and identification of additional research enquiries. This led to the development of strategies for advocacy and policy initiatives that were based on the evidence that was thus generated.
Baseline Survey conducted by the team informed larger studies and other enquires such as research prioritisation, stakeholder analysis and study of gender dimensions
Now, as the project gains momentum, this systematic and inclusive prioritisation will help develop a strategic research agenda that will provide the vision and framework for research on peri-urban health issues that can go even beyond the purview of the Initiative.
Learning from similar studies
The study team drew parallels and lessons from previous EcoHealth research and capacity building experience from other settings and diseases. Notable amongst these were:
- EcoHealth study of micro-ecosystems of Japanese encephalitis in a high endemic district of India (http://zoonoses.phfi.org/JE/)
- EcoHealth approach to assessing vector control for Visceral Lieshmaniasis in Bihar
- In an assessment of rabies control interventions in Tamil Nadu conducted by RCZI, a framework for estimating costs of the rabies control initiative was developed. The study aimed to determine costs to the state government of implementing different interventions for controlling rabies among the entire human and animal populations of Tamil Nadu. Costs for scaling up this programme (as well as additional interventions) were estimated using programme data (http://zoonoses.phfi.org/RCZI-organises-expert-meeting-to-assess-impact-of-rabies-and-its-interventions.html)
- ILRI’s research on zoonotic risks in peri-urban ecosystems such as Africa and promotion of rational drug use by farmers in a way that can help apply to lessons learnt from other parts of the world
Having in place a dedicated study team
A core team of researchers was identified and brought on board in PHFI in New Delhi, including collaborators from ILRI. All project sites now have a research team of senior and mid-level local collaborators and field staff for data collection and project coordination and management. Each site has a senior investigator from the Veterinary College’s Department of Veterinary Public Health; Department of Veterinary Pharmacology and the Department of Extension Services. In each of these departments, junior researchers and field staff have been assigned to carry out data collection and related activities.
Identifying study methods
Research studies will focus on understanding the peri-urban ecosystem in terms of public health risks and the process of urbanisation and development. Risk and economic assessment methods will be used to quantify public health risks and engagement with stakeholders will allow integration of others’ perspectives to develop a holistic characterisation of this ecosystem.
The Initiative has undertaken two major research projects as a means to develop and implement this platform. This will pave the way for engagement with different government (public health, animal health, urban planning), academic and local actors on concrete problems that require prompt action. The themes that these studies will explore in detail include:
- Zoonotic potential of bovine tuberculosis
- Antibiotic use practices as an unsustainable means of increasing food output
The focus of both projects is on the man-bovine interface in smallholder dairy farms in three different peri-urban ecosystems of the country. Both these issues have been identified as high importance to both Indian stakeholders and the global health community. Also, both problems are created in farms and require multi-disciplinary research and action. for more updates click here.