WHO/DFID-AHP meeting on control of zoonotic diseases:
a route to poverty alleviation among livestock-keeping communities

20-21 September 2005

The joint WHO and DFID Animal Health Programme meeting being held under the title “Control of Zoonotic Diseases – a route to poverty alleviation in livestock-keeping communities” has as its objective the bringing together of people from four different groups – the scientific and research community, UN agencies and other international organizations, nongovernmental organizations and development agencies, all working in two different fields – veterinary and animal production, and medical and public health, to discuss a problem affecting both fields. The meeting will highlight the gravity of the problem posed by various zoonotic diseases, the extent to which their control is neglected and the potential for realizing substantial benefits to human and animal health by effectively controlling these diseases.

The meeting will focus on the opportunities which the effective control of zoonotic diseases offer for alleviating poverty, particularly in marginalized rural and peri-urban communities living in close contact with animals. Zoonotic diseases are defined as those diseases which can be transmitted to people from animals and thus endanger not only poor people's livelihoods by affecting their livestock, but also compromise their own health and survival. The best-known and most feared of these is rabies; the others include brucellosis, bovine tuberculosis, various tapeworms and the zoonotic form of sleeping sickness (human trypanosomiasis). Zoonotic diseases are widely recognized as being among the most under-diagnosed diseases in humans.

The purpose of the meeting is therefore: (a) to review recent assessment of the health and economic impact of these diseases in people and their livestock, with the aim to estimate the overall burden of major zoonotic diseases; (b) to identify organizational and institutional elements needed for and measures to ensure sustainable implementation of effective control strategies; and (c) to make the inventory of tools/interventions (readily available and needed in the near future) for effective control/elimination of specific zoonoses in humans and animals.