From Framings to Pathways: Bats and the Construction of Risk in Ghana

Project dates: 2011 to 2016

This project took a historical perspective on the way bats and disease are understood in Ghana, how framings shift over time and how this has informed policy change and pathways of response.  It also examines how ‘at risk’ identities are co-constructed through policy and research, and how this in turn may impact back on community and other identities.

The project ran from 2011 to 2016 and was linked to the Dynamic Drivers of Disease in Africa consortium.

Key research questions

  1. How have different actors’ framings of zoonotic spillover, associated risks and drivers shifted over time in interaction with growing scientific (and other) evidence?
  2. In what ways have these framings influenced policy around zoonotic health threats, bat conservation and small scale livestock surveillance?

We conducted interviews inviting reflection on individuals’ changing knowledge and perceptions of zoonoses over the past 15 years, reflecting back on earlier understandings and what has led to changes.  These interviews focused particularly on scientists and policy makers working on zoonotic spillover, public health practitioners, veterinary and wildlife managers, clinical doctors as well as wildlife conservationists.

The interviews were combined with a media review of articles on zoonotic disease and discourse analysis to identify framings; collection of documentation of zoonotic disease risk as presented at specific health fora; and a review of scientific literature for framings of risk and to identify areas for convergence with media coverage.

We also undertook a review of policy documentation and changes over the past 15 years as well as interviews with key policy actors who have been involved in mainstream policy processes and explore networks, actors and narratives through selective case study analysis.


Responding to uncertainty: Bats and the construction of disease risk in Ghana
STEPS Working Paper 80
by Linda Waldman, Hayley MacGregor and Audrey Gadzekpo

STEPS members working on this project:

Project partner:


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