More than 80 percent of Nepal’s population is involved in farming and animal husbandry as a part of an agricultural lifestyle. Therefore, a majority of the population is vulnerable to zoonotic diseases, or diseases that spread from animals to humans. Nepal also hosts two bird migration routes, which increases the likelihood of avian disease. Between 2009 and 2012, 11 separate outbreaks of bird flu cost the Nepali economy more than $200 million. Relief International, with funding from the European Union, is working with Nepalese citizens to implement One Health Asia, a program designed to prevent zoonotic diseases through training and education.
RI works with its partner, ANSAB, in Nepal. Our disease prevention efforts address needs at all levels of the affected communities from households to government offices by:
- Forming clubs for schoolchildren and youths to raise awareness of zoonotic disease among the next generation of farmers, butchers and traders.
- Children raise awareness of the dangers of zoonoses and ways to avoid them by distributing brochures, hosting debate competitions, sport games, street plays and walks against disease.
- Generating wider support in government circles for the integration of zoonotic disease prevention into the public health agenda.
- Implementing disease monitoring and reporting systems that facilitate communication between government officials, local practitioners and communities.
- Training butchers and meat vendors to practice and promote hygienic animal slaughtering and dressing techniques, proper waste management and disposal.
- Training grassroots-level animal health workers and public health workers as community health workers on zoonoses and One Health who spread the word on the increased output of healthy livestock and healthy people.
- Establishing a zoonoses research center at Agriculture & Forestry University in Rampur where graduate students are conducting research on various aspects of zoonoses and their impacts on communities.
- Raising community awareness of zoonotic diseases through radio, news articles, newsletters, TV talk shows and workshops.
- Forming Zoonoses Control Committees (ZCCs) at the district, regional and national level to facilitate multi-stakeholders collaboration, disease surveillance and reporting.
RI’s work in Nepal is part of a transnational program called One Health Asia Program (OHAP) that is funded by the European Union. The OHAP works to alleviate the impact of zoonoses on fragile rural populations by bringing greater awareness, reporting capabilities and preventative measures to avert zoonotic disease outbreaks in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.