The costs of responding to outbreaks of transmissible and infectious diseases, especially zoonotic infections that can infect both animals and people, can be far greater than the cost of implementing measures to control or prevent problems in the first place.
This briefing summarises findings from a project aiming to enrich our understanding of possible policy responses to the threats from zoonotic diseases such as Rift Valley Fever (RVF). We have examined scientific and policy aspects of RVF, and taken account of both understandings and uncertainties. We analysed earlier work and then gathered the perspectives of a wide range of stakeholders, including pastoralist communities – both nomadic and settled – as well as national and local veterinary and public health officials, government policy-makers and members of relevant research communities.
There are many reasons why the perspectives of scientific experts on their own cannot be sufficient to decide RVF policy. Many RVF control options, such as slaughter bans, livestock movement restrictions and vaccination, require pastoralists’ cooperation. Developing a plan for responding effectively to the challenges of RVF requires understanding more than virology, epidemiology and immunology; it also requires an appreciation of the practical challenges and opportunities facing pastoralists and those with responsibility for helping them, and others, to respond to RVF.
This study not only gathered diverse perspectives on the challenges posed by RVF but also compared them to identify consistencies and inconsistencies amongst them. Detailed results will be published elsewhere; this policy brief focuses on some initiatives that could enable Kenya to become more resilient to the challenges posed by RVF and other zoonoses.
This briefing accompanies the working paper Rift Valley Fever: policies to prepare and respond.