Research priorities for the environment, agriculture and infectious diseases of poverty
Technical Report of the TDR Disease Reference Group on Environment, Agriculture and Infectious Diseases of Poverty
This report provides an evaluation of challenges presented by interactions between environment, agriculture and infectious diseases of public health importance. It explores the benefits and limitations of a more systems-based approach to conceptualizing and investigating this problem.
The authors conclude that development of such an approach necessitates stronger and harmonized strategic alliances between all organizations, sectors and institutions concerned with development, environment and social justice, including public health. They argue that the agenda for public health research and practice on infectious diseases can no longer be confined to itemized and vertically differentiated approaches to their prevention, control and (perhaps) eradication. Instead, it must also encompass the large-scale environmental, demographic and social changes that characterize today's world. This will require new types and levels of understanding, situation analyses, and interdisciplinary research and intersectoral actions to monitor and assess emerging trends and relationships.
The Reference Group identified the following top research priorities for infectious diseases of poverty in relation to environment and agriculture:
- Develop integrated preventive public health strategies for infectious diseases of poverty.
- Develop and test novel intersectoral control of neglected tropical diseases.
- Influence funding agencies to support inter-disciplinary approaches to infectious diseases of poverty.
- Determine how to link health, veterinary and wildlife surveillance systems.
- Determine which population groups are most vulnerable to climate change.
- Determine the interactions between agriculture, water use and infectious diseases of poverty.
- Apply systems-based research to environmentally induced transmission pathways of vector-borne diseases.
- Assess the impacts of novel approaches such as community-led total sanitation on helminth infections.
- Assess the impacts of water management projects on disease.
- Develop and assess community-based vector-borne disease control models.
The Thematic Reference Group on Environment, Agriculture and Infectious Diseases of Poverty (TRG 4) is part of an independent think tank of international experts, established by the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) to identify key research priorities. The mandate of TRG 4 was to evaluate information on research and the challenges presented by interactions between environment, agriculture and infectious diseases of public health importance. This is one of ten disease and thematic reference group reports that have come out of the TDR Think Tank, all of which have contributed to the development of the Global Report for Research on Infectious Diseases of Poverty.