Woutrina Smith

Woutrina Smith

Woutrina A Smith- BA, DVM, MPVM, PhD
Associate Professor and Associate Researcher
Medicine & Epidemiology

Dr. Smith's research program uses One Health approaches to investigate the epidemiology and transmission dynamics of zoonotic pathogens locally in California as well as internationally at multiple project sites in Africa and Asia. As a molecular epidemiologist working at the interfaces of humans, animals, and their shared environments, waterborne fecal pathogens as well as milk- and airborne transmitted zoonotic agents are of particular interest when considering individual and population health issues.

Abstract:

Linking SDG Health Research and Livelihood Improvement:

The HALI Project in Tanzania

Description. Over 10 years ago, two leading veterinary schools in Africa and America partnered to launch the Health for Animals and Livelihood Improvement (HALI) project in Tanzania. HALI means ‘state of health’ in Swahili, and seemed an appropriate name for the interdisciplinary consortium of faculty, staff, students, and stakeholders who were coming together to address emerging One Health problems. Since 2006, HALI research and outreach teams have been working to investigate livelihoods and patterns of infectious diseases at key interface areas where water, wildlife, livestock, and people come together, to deepen our understanding of health and disease processes in the Rungwa-Ruaha ecosystems that include National Park protected areas surrounded by village areas where pastoral and agropastoral livelihoods predominate. The HALI vision has been to identify potential points and processes of intervention to improve ecosystem health, population health, and livelihoods, from the community level to the national policy level. Multiple SDG themes are involved with this work, including healthy lives and well-being, access to clean water and energy, and sustainable food production. Approaches to characterizing and addressing these SDG themes have included community surveys and focus groups, collection and testing of human, animal, and environmental samples, predictive modeling, and community outreach.

Africa provides diverse settings for promoting a One Health approach to address SDGs. Successes of the HALI Project thus far have included increased acceptance and engagement with local communities and government ministries using both a bottom-up and a top-down approach over time, improved capacities for conducting infectious disease and livelihood research in the country and region, and increased knowledge of health and disease processes that inform predictive modeling to prioritize intervention strategies. However, moving from research and recommendations to actual implementation for multiple SDGs affecting health and livelihoods presents a new set of opportunities and challenges, often requiring transdisciplinary problem solving and innovation. As global health research and practice is increasingly integrated with development objectives and donor agendas, understanding concepts and methods to translate research into real-world impacts is an invaluable skillset for health researchers and practitioners. Discussion related to best practices and approaches to addressing multiple SDGs in study communities and then extending culturally appropriate and sustainable strategies out more broadly in the countries of interest is needed.