In 1996 and 2000, scabies skin disease outbreaks in two habituated gorilla groups of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park were traced back to the surrounding communities as a result as of poor hygiene. Realizing a much deeper one-health problem, Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) was founded in 2003.
CTPH’s objective is to promote health at the human, wildlife and livestock interface through prevention and control of spread of zoonotic diseases and other integrated conservation and health interventions. CTPH in partnership with the Ministry of Health and the Uganda Wildlife Authority recruited volunteers and trained them in areas of public health, wildlife health monitoring and sustainable livelihoods.
A One Health approach or Population Health and Environment (PHE) approach is being used to prevent and control disease transmission between animals and humans by setting up long term wildlife health monitoring systems, consolidating community based health care to prevent and control zoonoses like TB and scabies and facilitate the formation of Village Health and Conservation Teams (VHTs) who take critical services door to door promoting family planning, hygiene and sanitation, infectious disease prevention and control, nutrition, sustainable agriculture and gorilla and forest conservation education.
In Queen Elizabeth National Park, CTPH is using a similar approach in a savannah habitat to work with the District Veterinary Office and surrounding communities to improve the health of the livestock. CTPH encouraged the pastoralists to form a network of community conservation animal health workers (CCAHWS) who are trained to improve the health and husbandry of livestock in the community as well as promoting an understanding of disease issues between wildlife, livestock and people. They are model change agents improving attitudes and public health practices in their community. Communities when empowered are capable of significantly creating change
This model is being replicated in Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve, Karamoja region in eastern Uganda, Virunga National Park in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Lake Victoria Basin. CTPH is currently coordinating the Uganda PHE Working Group, advocating for integrated approaches where the model is being adapted and scaled up by other member organizations.
About the speaker:
Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka is the Founder and CEO, Conservation Through Public Health. She works to protect the mountain gorillas of Bwindi, a remote and densely forested area in south west Uganda that is the only major stronghold of the species outside Rwanda. She also works to prevent the spread of disease from wild animals to humans, and vice versa, by improving primary healthcare for people and animals in and around protected areas in Africa. Gladys was the recipient of the Whitley Gold Award in 2009.