Global Health Academy

Combating neglected diseases in Africa

Researchers in Edinburgh are part of a project to combat the spread of neglected diseases in the developing world.

University scientists are coordinating a project which aims to tackle diseases that are spread form animals to humans - known as zoonotic diseases.

World Health Day

Several of these are vector-borne diseases - spread to people by flies, ticks and bugs - which the World Health Organization is today (7 April) raising awareness of for World Health Day.

These infectious diseases are often found in societies where poverty is widespread, and where people rely on livestock for their livelihood and survival.

Often these lesser known diseases - such as leishmaniasis and sleeping sickness - do not receive the international recognition and funding that is required to treat them effectively.

Improving lives

The project - integrated control of neglected zoonoses (ICONZ) - aims to improve the lives of people affected by neglected diseases by working closely with governments and donor bodies.

Experts work together to deliver interventions which are culturally appropriate, economically viable and ready for adoption into the policy frameworks of affected countries.

Animal health

The ICONZ project unites doctors, veterinarians, scientists, social scientists and economists from 21 institutions across Europe and Africa, and aims to address zoonotic diseases in both animals and humans.

Increased animal health means a reduced risk of infection for humans and an improvement in income. In addition, it is often much cheaper to treat a disease in animals than to wait until humans have been infected too.

The ICONZ project is funded by the European Commission’s Framework 7 Programme.

It is within our power as a global community, to intervene to help to improve the livelihoods and quality of life of millions of people. Put simply, if you want to combat poverty, what greater gift to give communities than their health?

Professor Sue Welburn Director of the Global Health Academy, University of Edinburgh