Health Challenges and Systems

Global Environmental Change and Its Health Impacts

Accessible, universal health care for all is the backbone of a nation. Evidence shows that health programs based on evidence are cost-effective and easily implementable.  .

Sub-Saharan Africa however bears a disproportionate burden of ill-health, and health remains largely under-funded by many governments in the region. In 2010, HIV/AIDS claimed up to 1.2 million lives in Sub-Saharan Africa and a further 22.9 million people, including 2.3 million children, were living with the condition. The region is also now increasingly threatened by non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive respiratory disease.

Current Project

urban-zoones

Epidemiology, Ecology and Socio-Economics of Disease Emergence in Nairobi (Urban Zoonoses Project)

Program: Health Challenges and Systems

A combination of growth and migration is resulting in substantial increases in the population of Urban and Peri-Urban (UPU) zones in Africa; with population rising from 35% of the total population in 2007 to a projected 51% by 2030. Urbanized environments in Africa are melting pots of activity and interaction; livestock live alongside people; human and livestock waste is poorly disposed of near food production areas while formal and informal trading takes place in internal and externally connected networks. This degree of mixing and contact creates ecological niches with opportunities for pathogen transmission, and several influential reports have linked urbanization to the risk of emerging infectious diseases. However, little is known on the impact of urbanization on the transmission of microbial pathogens.

Approximately 60% of human pathogens are zoonotic, and approximately 80% of novel pathogens have zoonotic origins. It is also thought that the processes leading to the emergence of novel pathogens are similar to those resulting in exposure to and spread of known zoonotic pathogens. Our understanding of the mechanisms and processes underlying the emergence of novel pathogens should benefit from investigation of pathogens that we already know about. This will go a long way in improving our ability to predict the emergence and spread of new infectious diseases hence provide an opportunity to understand the biology and ecology of existing pathogens.

The study uses an interdisciplinary approach to study E. coli as an exemplar microbe for this purpose because it is zoonotic, exists in many hosts, in most environments, on food and in milk and has pathogen and non-pathogen forms.

Partners

  • University of Liverpool
  • University College London
  • International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)
  • University of Nairobi
  • Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)
  • Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
  • The Royal Veterinary College
  • International Institute for Environment

Project period

  • Start Date: January 2012
  • End Date:   December 2016

Project Funders

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    The Medical Research Council is a publicly-funded organisation dedicated to improving human health. We support research across the entire spectrum of medical sciences, in universities and hospitals, in our own units, centres and institutes in...

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