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Study pinpoints ‘win-win’ answers to protect human health insurance and conserve ecosystems

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Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

A far-reaching overview of academic papers and reports evaluated 46 proposed “win-win” solutions for reducing human infectious disease burdens and advancing conservation goals, which now could be explored on a publicly available website. The analysis highlights diverse and widespread bright spots where there may be opportunities to simultaneously safeguard human and ecosystem health.

Nearly 30 researchers from over the USA and overseas conducted the analysis, which appears in The Lancet Planetary Health. The interdisciplinary team included academic researchers, practitioners at government and nonprofit organizations, and veterinarians.

Skylar Hopkins, an assistant professor of applied ecology at NC State and corresponding writer of the analysis, said the interdisciplinary group done this synthesis for four years. They painstakingly searched the prevailing academic literature for potential solutions and developed a fresh process for determining whether a particular “win-win” solution is safe, feasible and cost-effective. They discovered that the solutions have varied degrees of evidence for success; some have strong support already among others are ripe for further study.

“We prefer to think about these solutions like options on a bespoke menu. To choose and design a remedy that meets your preferences, you are going to need a large amount of information. So we offer an evidence summary for every solution,” Hopkins said. “We also created a choice process that anyone can follow, so researchers and decision makers can design their very own solutions or evaluate whether a preexisting solution will continue to work within their situation.”

But Hopkins said that it wasn’t an easy task to evaluate a few of the potential solutions.

“Sometimes the data for a potential solution conflicted,” Hopkins said. “One study indicate an intervention would reduce human disease burdens and another study indicate that exactly the same intervention would increase human disease burdens. Potential solutions may possibly also have trade-offs or collateral impacts, where in fact the intervention was best for some people however, not others.” The team had to build up a way for quantifying evidence diversity, consistency and applicability to cope with these complications.

The set of 46 solutions shows only 1 with “high” evidence for both positive human health insurance and implications: vaccinating dogs to lessen rabies transmission to wildlife and folks. Many of the solutions concentrate on domestic dogs and cats as disease reservoirs.

“A few of the 46 proposed solutions are implemented most importantly scales by national or international governments. Others can be achieved at a little scale, even by individuals. Each and every time you vaccinate your pets or increase your kitten to be walked on a leash rather than roaming unsupervised, you’re implementing one of these brilliant solutions,” Hopkins said.

The working group was funded by the Science for Nature and folks Partnership after some associates had spent years studying human schistosomiasis in Africaa debilitating disease due to contacting water contaminated with parasites from snails. The snail population exploded whenever a river was dammed and prawns, which eat the snails, couldn’t migrate. The potential solution? Introduce prawns back to the river.

The team attempt to find other types of potential win-win solutions, unsure should they would find many or few other examples. They discovered that the 46 potential solutions cover six of the world’s seven continentsall but Antarcticaand included most of the world’s major known pathogens and ways of disease transmission. The solutions also tackle the majority of the world’s most pressing environmental problems, including land-use change because of agriculture, urbanization, resource exploitation and invasive species.

Twenty-seven of the solutions focus on conservation efforts that also had human health advantages; many involve managing species, just like the snail parasites that contaminated village water sources.

Six of the solutions involve that also had conservation benefits.

“People often ask what the best solution is,” Hopkins said, “in fact it is difficult to select. But I’m forever impressed by the programs that try to improve usage of healthcare, and livelihood opportunities for folks living near protected forests, marine reserves or other biodiversity hotspots. When those communities have significantly more power over their well-being, they are able to use resources more sustainably, which slows deforestation rates and marine degradation.”

Thirteen of the solutions aren’t specific to human health or conservation yet they touch both sectors. Replacing wood-burning stoves with cleaner stoves is proposed to lessen deforestation and smoke-related ailments, the researchers say.

“Policymakers are searching for opportunities to simultaneously advance multiple sustainable development goals, like ‘ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all’ and ‘conserving life on land and below water.’ That’s important work, nonetheless it can feel abstract or intangible. Hopefully that study brings those efforts alive with real-world examples,” Hopkins said.



More info: Diversity and evidence gaps among potential winwin solutions for conservation and human infectious disease control, The Lancet Planetary Health (2022).

Citation: Study pinpoints ‘win-win’ answers to protect human health insurance and conserve ecosystems (2022, August 3) retrieved 3 August 2022 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-08-win-win-solutions-human-health-ecosystems.html

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