Charles Sturt University
Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation

Awareness and management of zoonotic diseases in Pakistan

Research by Graham Centre PhD student Ms Shumaila Arif aims to raise awareness of diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans, to improve the health of farmers in Pakistan.

PhD student Shumaila Arif assisted by ASLP advisor Anam Afzal conducting a focus group in the village of Mirza AbbadAs part of her research through the School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences at Charles Sturt University (CSU), Ms Arif has conducted focus discussion groups with smallholder farmers in four districts in Pakistan.

"A zoonotic disease is one that transmit from animals to human accidently through direct or indirect contact with an infected animal, for example the bacterial zoonotic disease brucellosis or tuberculosis," Ms Arif said.

"My research aims to investigate farmers' perceptions towards the farm and household practices that might pose a risk for humans contracting zoonotic diseases, in particular brucellosis.

 "The focus groups were held in March and April 2017 to investigate the attitudes towards disease and the gender perceptions regarding their family health decisions.

"Farmers often have a poor understanding of zoonotic diseases and a high level of risky practices are being undertaken on farm and in households across a number of regions of Pakistan.

"Poor knowledge about diseases, incorrect perceptions, and attitudes towards the treatment support the need for health education, particularly on zoonotic diseases that can be controlled by practice change.

"I found that female farmers were more willing than males to change their practices and to participate in awareness programs."

Ms Arif is supervised by Associate Professor Jane Heller, Dr Marta Hernandez-Jover, Associate Professor Peter Thomson and Dr David McGill.

Her research is supported by an Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) John Allwright Fellowship.

This story was first published in the Winter 2017 edition of the Graham Centre's newsletter the Innovator, check it out here.