RCZI to Strengthen Field Building Leadership Initiative on EcoHealth

The Vietnam Public Health Association (VPHA) invited Dr. Manish Kakkar, Senior Public Health Specialist, Public Health Foundation of India and Member Secretary, RCZI, to the 3rd Annual Meeting of the Regional Core Group Members of the IDRC supported Field Building Leadership Initiative (FBLI) workshop in Bangkok, Thailand from 15th -19th February, 2016. Dr. Kakkar made a presentation on how PHFI/RCZI has taken steps to develop an EcoHealth network in India with developing partnerships in South Asia.

The meeting was preceded by a networking and dialogue event that brought together 23 participants, mainly researchers, to discuss integrative approaches to addressing agricultural developmental challenges in the domains of health, agriculture, food systems, and the environment, especially in the Asian context. Dr. Kakkar made a presentation on how PHFI/RCZI has taken steps to link the EcoHealth network in South Asia with FBLI.

Participants representing FBLI, Asian Partnership for Emerging Infectious Disease (APEIR), Ecosystem Modifications and Emerging Infectious Diseases Risk Evaluation (ECOMORE), EHNA, South East Asia One Health University Network (SEAOHUN), Indonesia One Health Coordinating Network (INDOHUN), Mekong Basin Disease Surveillance (MBDS) and Veterinarians Without Borders (VWB) networks shared their experience in using integrative approaches in Asia, discussing ways of collaborating with one another.

Common challenges faced by agri-food systems in Asia

Through a participatory process, participants identified some of the pressing challenges and health risks that confronted agri-food systems in Asia. According to them main drivers included economic growth, population explosion, climate change, urbanisation and agricultural intensification. In many cases, technology development, population dynamics, migration and pollution from environment degradation were also responsible for negatively impacting food systems. Other health challenges that were emerging as major concerns, included food safety, antimicrobial resistance, food security, occupational hazards, vector-borne diseases, non-communicable diseases, zoonoses, food poisoning, and environmental issues especially those relating to wastewater, irrigation systems and pesticides.

At the end of the meeting, RCZI was tasked with a number of important next steps, namely:
  • Lead on EcoHealth research methodology publication using examples of research studies conducted under FBLI and by RCZI 
  • Organise an inter regional consultation in New Delhi to facilitate interaction between the two networks and identify a roadmap for future collaborations
  • Dr. Kakkar to be part of the Steering Group to apply for the next proposal for IDRC funding
  • FBLI to provide technical support to PHFI/RCZI’s Research Capacity Building Programme (RCBP) under the PERIMILK project funded by IDRC