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"The Health Paradigm and Disease Control: Consideration of the Health of Ecosystems and Impacts on Human Health and Rural Livelihoods"

Michael D. Kock

Historically when considering disease control methods, authorities in Africa have paid scant attention to the impact these methods might have on ecosystems, the flora and fauna that reside therein, nor the livelihoods of human communities who might rely on these resources. Healthy ecosystems contribute to sustainable development and human well-being, and provide a diverse resource base that can be utilized on a sustainable basis to address poverty.

Ecosystems should not be viewed purely as “wildlife” or “natural community” based; rather, they should be seen to support the myriad activities of humans and animals that occur on a daily basis, including livestock production. Recognition of the many ecosystems (both natural and human-derived, i.e. altered but healthy systems) that exist over a landscape and how they are interconnected is essential in developing a holistic approach to managing diseases and protecting biodiversity. Veterinarians need to move away from a “reductionist” approach to disease control and begin to recognize the value of a “one medicine, many ecosystems” approach to protecting livelihoods, addressing poverty and environmental issues.

Ecosystem health can be assessed by adopting a biomedical approach. For example, the development of ecological health or condition monitoring criteria that are linked to health monitoring of communities and their livestock would form a critical component of an ecosystem health approach. This would allow the monitoring of the overall condition of the ecosystem and its components in an “umbrella” fashion contributing towards the well-being of people, livestock, wildlife and the environment. Monitoring should occur across landscapes, be multi-disciplinary, complementary, detect (diagnose) problems and lead to the generation of solutions (treatment).

Mike Kock

Audio of presentation
(MP3, 11 MB)

Video of presentation (Quicktime):
Part 1 (25 MB)
Part 2 (31 MB)

PDF of slides

JPG Slideshow
(viewable online)


Biography for
Mike Kock

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