About this Research Topic
Due to poverty, disease, high human population growth and land encroachment on Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, critically endangered mountain gorillas and their habitat are threatened. Scabies skin disease outbreaks in mountain gorillas in 1996 and 2001/2 provided evidence that people can make gorillas sick and brought attention to the fact that public health around gorilla habitat was less than adequate where people have preventable zoonotic infectious diseases primarily due to less than adequate health services and poor hygiene and sanitation, affecting conservation, ecotourism and sustainable livelihoods.
Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) is a 13-year-old NGO and non-profit with an innovative methodology that focuses on the interdependence of wildlife and human health in and around Africa’s protected areas. CTPH uses an integrated One Health approach to implement three strategic programs: Wildlife Health and Conservation, Community Health and Sustainable Livelihoods with research, ICT and advocacy as supporting pillars.
We investigate cross species disease transmission and monitor the conservation and public health impact of positive behavior change communication through Village Health and Conservation Teams (VHCTs) who promote hygiene and sanitation, infectious disease prevention and control, family planning, nutrition and sustainable agriculture, as well as, reporting homes visited by gorillas.
Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) built a Gorilla Research Clinic in 2005 that was upgraded to a larger Gorilla Health and Community Conservation Centre in 2015, which does comparative disease analysis at the human/gorilla/livestock interface using an integrated approach to prevent cross species disease transmission; and improves public health and biodiversity conservation.
Cross species disease studies include intestinal helminths parasites, protozoa, bacteria and viruses. In 2016, CTPH got IRB permission to conduct human research, expanding our studies from only symptomatic humans to also non-symptomatic humans thus strengthening the research and ability to detect diseases that are being shared between people, gorillas and livestock and other risk factors, such as, large family sizes, human and wildlife conflict and stress.
As such we have developed the following research questions to guide researchers and inform CTPH research strategy:
i. Are integrated Eco health, One Health, and Population Health and Environment (PHE) approaches instrumental in addressing public health and conservation concerns in fragile ecosystems?
ii. How effective is health in bringing about conservation and sustainable development outcomes?
iii. What diseases are shared at the human/wildlife/livestock interface and how can they be prevented and controlled?
iv. What can be done to maintain healthy ecosystems and viable wildlife populations?
v. How can effective ecotourism be implemented that minimizes risks to great apes and the environment and maximizes community benefits?
vi. How effective are livestock and other enterprises in reducing hunting and bush meat consumption?
vii. How can microfinance and other business models be used to sustain Eco health initiatives at the community level?
viii. What is the effect of climate change on biodiversity and public health around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
ix. What Ecohealth interventions can contribute to Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation?
x. How can we translate the research to policy?
Research around these questions will enable us to better understand integrated approaches to disease monitoring linking conservation and public health.
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