By Ricki Watkins, LCC CRSP
- Climate-sensitive diseases compromising livestock industry in developing countries
- World Bank organizes expert group meeting on climate-sensitive diseases
- LCC CRSP fellow participated in meeting
- Expert group produces recommendations for reducing risk
Over one billion people of the world’s poor rely on livestock for their livelihood, making the livestock industry an integral part of the economy in developing countries. However, as the climate changes, the industry is starting to suffer as climate-sensitive diseases compromise livestock and human health. The World Bank’s 2010 World Development Report estimates that, in some countries, up to 9 percent of the Gross Domestic Product is lost to climate-sensitive health impacts. Yet, little effort and resources are being invested in research and action to address the problem.
The World Bank Group, an organization working to reduce poverty, is one of the organizations starting to invest in research on climate-sensitive health impacts. The World Bank’s Agriculture and Rural Development Department organized a three-day expert group meeting in late August, 2012 to congregate information, develop networks and discuss early action measures to reduce climate change-induced diseases with an emphasis on Rift Valley Fever, East Coast Fever and Blue tongue.
Held at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center in Italy, the meeting was attended by 19 experts spanning research, policy, and practice in a number of climate and health (human & animal) related disciplines. They represented organizations such as the World Organization for Animal Health, World Health Organization, United States Department of Agriculture and United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, among others. LCC CRSP researcher Mark Nanyingi, who is working on a doctorate fellow project for LCC CRSP, was one of the 19 experts invited to the meeting. Nanyingi’s current research for the LCC CRSP analyzes the impact of climate change on livestock disease in Kenya.
During the first day of the workshop, each participant presented their work and area of expertise to the group; Nanyingi presented his work on “Climate Change Early Warning Systems for Rift Valley Fever Pandemic Preparedness in Kenya.” On the second day, participants split into three working groups to discuss one of three conference themes: state of knowledge of risk management tools, systems and institutional capacities required to build/use these tools, and stakeholder involvement and communication. The last day concluded with presentations from the working groups.
“This conference facilitated an expert level inter-sectoral gathering to develop interventional One Health strategies and early action plans for key climate-sensitive diseases that impact the health and livelihoods of vulnerable populations especially in developing countries,” Nanyingi said.
A range of recommended interventions from the workshop include the establishment of surveillance models and early warning advisory systems, the development of region- and nation-specific disease outlooks, the creation of climate-sensitive disease risk maps and communication tools.
The information presented and recommendations generated from the meeting will contribute to the World Bank Knowledge Product Portal of climate-sensitive diseases. The Portal will support ongoing initiatives on One Health and the Pilot Program on Climate Resilience (PPCR), thus helping practitioners reduce climate-sensitive disease risks.
Future follow-up items for workshop participants include improving communication and education, broadening the knowledge base, building networks and educating the stakeholders.