I recently spoke at a workshop on understanding how to go about doing research prioritization for prevention and control of zoonotic diseases at the Hans Hoheisen Wildlife Research Station, which is affiliated to the University of Pretoria, South Africa.
The event was organized by Institute of Tropical Medicine, Belgium and Public Health Foundation of India, in collaboration with the University of Pretoria who played host for us. Set in the heart of the Kruger National Park, the HHWRS was the most idyllic, “One Health” environment in which such a workshop could have been hosted. The workshop was attended by country investigators from selected partners, who are a part of the Strategic Network on Neglected Tropical Diseases and Zoonoses (SNNDZ). This image shows most of the participants who were a part of the event:
In the image: From left to right: Wayan Tunas Artama (Ecohealth/One Health Resource Center, Indonesia), Greg Simpson (Hans Hoheisen Wildlife Research Station, University of Pretoria, South Africa), Vivek Kattel (BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, Nepal), Mekonnen Yitagele (Haramaya University, Ethiopia), Lai Jiang (Institute of Tropical Medicine, Belgium), Evelien Paessens (Institute of Tropical Medicine, Belgium), Richard Akuffo (University of Ghana, Ghana), Pranab Chatterjee (Public Health Foundation of India, India), Manish Kakkar (Public Health Foundation of India, India).
Not in Image: Fabiola Quesada (University of Pretoria, South Africa)
In course of the two-day event, we trained the participants in the methodology that had been adopted by the Roadmap for the Control of Zoonoses in India (RCZI) Initiative to define the research priorities in the Indian setting. In the days ahead, each of the country investigators shall initiate a research prioritization exercise in their own country and hopefully we shall come together by the middle of 2016 to publish the findings from these endeavors. Such a multi-country approach to understanding the knowledge gaps and knowledge needs with respect to zoonotic disease control and prevention is unprecedented and we hope to present the consolidated findings at the One Health Conference in Melbourne in December 2016 to a larger audience to bring about more intense discussion on the matter.
The results are likely to result in a better understanding of the research and informational needs landscape with respect to zoonotic diseases and emerging infectious diseases. Armed with this systematic understanding of research needs within a local context, we can then proceed to make informed policy and funding decisions to fuel the most critically needed issues towards their solution.