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Vietnam landscape (Photo credit: ILRI/Vu Ngoc Dung)

Agriculture and Infectious Disease Group

How does agriculture affect health? Besides its impact on diets and nutrition, changing agricultural landscapes and food systems can have major effects on the transmission of human infectious diseases. We study these interactions and welcome other LSHTM researchers and collaborators to join us in this exciting work.

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About us

We are a multidisciplinary team within LSHTM. We are also part of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) supported by the CGIAR, a global consortium of donors and research centres for agricultural development. We work with a range of CGIAR centres, including the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), and AfricaRice.

Agriculture and health

Our programme with A4NH is part of a broader LSHTM research collaboration with A4NH and other institutions on agriculture, food systems and health.

About
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What we do

We study the effects of changing agricultural and food systems on human infectious diseases. 

Agriculture, and the food systems that it supports, are essential for human health, but sometimes, agricultural activities and environments can generate unintended health side-effects. For example, farm landscapes can create vector breeding sites and/or promote vector contact, while livestock food chains can promote the transmission of zoonotic diseases between humans and animals, and contribute to antibiotic resistance in human pathogens.        

Our approach

Some of our work is classical public health research aimed at improving the effectiveness of health interventions in agricultural contexts. Much of our work, however, is essentially inter-sectoral, using health research methods to produce ‘knowledge outputs’ for people engaged in agriculture – farmers, livestock-keepers and agricultural experts. The aim is to develop and promote agricultural methods that are safe for human health and avoid the unintended side-effected explained above. This in turn contributes to the sustainability of agriculture and food systems, food security and nutrition.

Our brief is broad, and engages many aspects of natural and social science research in LSHTM across all of its faculties. Presently, much of our work is directed at two research problems: rice and malaria in Africa, and anti-microbial resistance in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Research Programme for Agriculture for Nutrition and Health

Useful links

Research and Collaborations
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With an innovative perspective that focuses on consumption and demand, A4NH seeks to realise the enormous potential of agricultural development to make significant contributions to improving the nutrition and health of people worldwide.

We co-manage with ILRI one of A4NH’s research programmes called “Improving Human Health” (IHH), which addresses the side-effects of agriculture on infectious disease. As one of the A4NH managing partner, we also facilitate links between LSHTM and its other research programmes on food systems for healthier diets, micronutrient biofortification of crops, policies and programmes for improved nutrition, and food safety.

Within our Improving Human Health collaboration, there are three clusters of research, concerned with:

  • Diseases in agricultural landscapes
  • Emerging and neglected zoonotic diseases
  • Global challenges in agriculture and health

Agricultural landscapes and vector-borne disease

Agriculture is the main driver of environmental change in rural settings. Landscapes that are 100% man-made are becoming more common in rural settings in tropical countries, and agricultural landscapes are growing features in urban areas. Compared to other infections, vector-borne diseases are especially vulnerable to environmental change because transmission is sensitive to any factor that may alter the behaviour and ecology of the vector.

A key challenge today is the intensification of rice in Africa and its potential impact on malaria elimination there. Mosquitoes breed in ricefields everywhere, but this is a particular problem in Africa because the main ricefield-breeding mosquito species is Anopheles gambiae. This is the main vector of malaria in Africa and its efficiency in transmitting the parasite is the main reason why 85% of world’s deaths due to malaria occur/are suffered by in African children. Our research with African agricultural and health research groups will develop ways to grow more rice without growing more malaria. Our partners at ILRI also work on landscape aspects of other vector-borne diseases like Rift Valley Fever, Japanese Encephalitis and Dengue.

Collaborating research partners include ILRI, AfricaRice, IITA, International Rice Research Institute, and Institut Pierre Richet IPR.

Emerging and neglected zoonotic diseases

Our partner, ILRI, is a leader in research on zoonotic disease risks in low- and middle-income countries. Research in this area is aimed a co-locating and aligning health and agricultural interventions for effective management of zoonoses that generate local health burdens for poor communities and create global pandemic risks. A principle focus is on cystercercosis, a disease whose management requires coordinated interventions in pig production and medical care. Other research focuses on brucellosis and food borne diseases, with partners in ILRI and the Royal Veterinary College. Our work on zoonoses also links to A4NH’s food safety flagship, including a current LSHTM collaboration with ILRI on food safety and WASH.

Collaborating research partners include ILRI, RVC, and University of Liverpool.

Global challenges in agriculture and health

Agriculture and health policy makers face a number of common problems where an integrated approach may be more effective than sectoral interventions. We create inter-sectoral dialogue and collaborative research to address shared, global challenges, such as anti-microbial resistance (AMR) generated in LMICS by growing use of antibiotics in both agriculture and human health. LSHTM is a managing partner of the new CGIAR AMR Hub, which “applies a One Health approach to support the efforts of LMICs in controlling agriculture-associated AMR risks, through promoting and facilitating transdisciplinary partnerships”.

We work together with ILRI, the Royal Veterinary College and national partners in Africa and Asia on a portfolio of research projects which include: generation and transmission of AMR genes in livestock supply chains, cross-over in antibiotic sale and use between human and animal drug supply chains, cross-sectoral approaches to surveillance for antibiotic use, structural interventions in LMICs that might reduce risks in both sectors, perceptions of disease in local communities and how this relates to antibiotic use for humans and animals, and risks from antibiotic use in aquaculture.

Other work on shared agricultural and health challenges focuses on insecticide use in crops and its impact on the effectiveness of insecticide-impregnated bed nets for disease control, through the development of resistance in insect pests and vectors. Future work will consider broader issues of disease burden and health improvement in food system actors and its potential to improve food security in poorer countries.

Collaborating partners include ILRI, University of Liverpool, and the Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp (ITM).

Agriculture and Health
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Our programme with A4NH is part of a broader LSHTM research collaboration with A4NH and other institutions on agriculture, food systems and health.

We work closely with ongoing LSHTM programmes on nutrition including Improving Metric and Methods for Agriculture-Nutrition Action (IMMANA) and Sustainable and Healthy Food Systems (SHEFS). With IMMANA, A4NH contributes to the Agriculture, Nutrition and Health (ANH) Academy with a membership of 2000+ research scientists in 90+ countries and 700+ institutions, mostly in LMICs.

These and other LSHTM projects are all partners with us in the London Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health (LCIRAH) which has provided for almost a decade a monthly platform for interdisciplinary  dialogue on agriculture and health research collaboration between LSHTM, SOAS, RVC and City University.

We encourage anyone at LSHTM interested in health links with agriculture to contact LCIRAH.

Updates
Updates List Block
Antibiotic Resistance Related Intervention Impact Evaluation Modelling Workshop

Date: Wednesday 18 March 2020

Time: 09:00 - 4:30pm

Venue: Woburn Suite, Senate House, Malet St, WC1E 7HU

One-day workshop hosted by LSHTM, in collaboration with the CGIAR Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) Research programme, bringing together people working on quantitative intervention/policy impact evaluations within the field of AMR. We will discuss different epidemiological and economic modelling approaches. We will have speakers debating statistical evaluations of individual data through to discussions of the use of macroeconomic models. This workshop is designed for researchers working in the area of quantitative, antibiotic resistance-related intervention impact evaluation.

If you would like to register, please contact Maria Bernardez on maria.bernardez@lshtm.ac.uk. Numbers are limited. For those who cannot attend in person, we will be looking at streaming the workshop live and will share the link to the event in due course.

CGIAR A4NH Workshop
Talking head video with Jeff Waage

Watch our video with Jeff Waage, speaking about the Flagship 5: Improving Human Health programme: 

Talking head video with Jo Lines

Watch our video with Jo Lines, speaking about the health impacts of man-made landscapes: 

Talking head video with Clare Chandler

Watch our video with Clare Chandler, speaking about the antimicrobial resistance:

Who We Are
Team Block
Agriculture and Infectious Disease Group team

Nichola
Naylor

Research Fellow

Kallista
Chan

Research Assistant

Maria
Bernardez

Project Administrator
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External partners

From ILRI (Kenya)

Dr. Delia Randolph; Dr. Bernard Bett; Dr. Barbara Wieland; Prof. Eric Fevre (from ILRI but also from University of Liverpool); Mrs. Stella Ikileng; Ms. Wacera Ngonga; Ms. Victoria Kyallo.

From ILRI (Vietnam)

Dr. Joanna Lindahl; Dr. Hung Nguyen; Dr. Fred Unger; Dr. Hu Suk Lee.

From IITA

Dr. Rousseau Djouaka; George Mahuku; Joshua Adeoye.

From Africa Rice

Dr. Saito Kazuki; Dr. Elliot Dossou-Yovo; Mr. Mazen El Solh.

From IPR

Dr. Raphael NGuessan; Dr. Alphosine Koffi; Dr. Dimi Doudou; Mr. Lucien You Bi.

From ITM

Dr. Koen Peeters Grietens; Dr. Maya Ronse; Dr. Thuan thi Nguyen

From RVC

Dr. Pablo Alarcon Lopez; Dr. Ana Mateus; Ms. Chris Pinto Jimenez; Mr. Mathew Hennessey.

From CGIAR

Dr. John McDermott; Ms. Amanda Wyatt; Mrs. Tigist Defabachew; Mrs. Janet Hudor; Ms. Elena Martinez.

From LSHTM

Dr. Clare Chandler; Dr. Sian Clarke; Dr. Richard Stabler; Dr. Paula Dominguez-Salas; Dr. Harparkash Kaur; Dr. Gwen Knight; Ms. Jenny Westad