Land Use Matters: Infectious Disease Emergence and Economics of Altered Landscapes Project

Land Use Matters: Infectious Disease Emergence and Economics of Altered Landscapes Project


I still remember when I was a child. The
surrounding air is so clean, the temperature is so cold and I can see a lot of
wildlife walking around the village at the field in Malaysia has changed a lot
since I was a child due to the development deforestation and
urbanization I can never feel the same as before. Here in Asia we’ve seen a
remarkable transformation in the last 30 to 40 years with increased urbanization,
more people moving into urban environments converting more land. And
that agricultural intensification which is critical to feed a growing population
is also having a deleterious effect. And that’s primarily in placing humans and
animals in increasingly greater degrees of contact whether it’s wet markets or
increased poultry production in the region or the conversion of what had
been pristine forests to monocultures of crops, commodities such as palm oil. And
that is driving a degree of disease emergence that we’ve never seen before. And there’s an economic cost to that. One of the big issues in Southeast Asia that
drives emerging diseases is land-use change so we focused on how can we help
the extractive industry do things in a way that doesn’t result in disease is
emerging. How much does a disease cost when it emerges and how can that cost be
incorporated into land planning to try and do things in a more effective way. The main function of the uni is to
contact animal sampling to see what is the potential emerging diseases out there
in the forest in the border of the forest and also in some of the villages. So we take the samples to the labs and we’re screening them and testing them to get a
better understanding of what viruses are out there circulating, and what things we
need to be worried about. What could be the next SARS the next, Nipah, the next Ebola. In Malaysia we found three viruses of a public health concern. So
what we started to think about in the quiz quantity the idea really came from
from Dan Shaw at RDMA, the USAID Mission in Bangkok, was that we needed to
create an economic model so that policymakers, governments, industry could
understand the economic impact of disease emergence as a result of
land-use change. And that’s really where the IDEEAL project was born. We’ve been able
to develop a suite of maps it helped land use planners understand where and
in what context they can reap the benefits from agricultural production
and food security that helps ensure the nutrition and health of communities and
at the same time reduce the likelihood of disease transmission spillover risk. So these models and these analyses, the mapping tools that have been provided
through our support under the IDEEAL program are increasingly providing
insight that can be utilized at a global scale. Our main goals are to build models of
land-use and economics of disease emergence that can be used for local and
regional policy makers. And the other goal for this is to have a center where
all stakeholders can have data base on land use and disease emergence. So USAID
support in partnership with Eco Health Alliance and the University of Malaysia
Sabah is really a perfect embodiment of the one health approach in bringing
human animal and environmental health professionals together with land use
planners, policymakers, researchers to understand truly the drivers of disease
emergence and the economic impact that arises from how we utilize our landscape.
And this one health approach will help us and guide us in identifying solutions
that will pay dividends in terms of protecting health, in terms of food
security and livelihoods and economic growth in a sustainable and low-impact
way for generations to come. you

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