As Uganda faces shifting dynamics of health threats due to population growth, economic development, climate change, and human and animal migration and displacement, the multisectoral nature of these threats necessitates a departure from traditional, vertical public health responses. To address this need, the Government of Uganda have adopted a new One Health approach to addressing three priority public health threats: zoonotic diseases, AMR, and biosecurity, drawing on experience and lessons from Uganda’s rich history of multi-sectoral disease responses. One strategic target for this campaign is to increase vaccine uptake in both humans and animal populations, and better monitor their interactions.
Improving veterinary service delivery to combat and control emerging and re-emerging animal disease is a critical measure to meet the increased demand for livestock products to rural poor farmers and reducing associated animal and human health related risks. However, as a result of the continued fiscal challenges, the government has adopted a reactive rather than a proactive approach to service delivery. In the veterinary sector, vaccinations are conducted when there is an outbreak rather than routine vaccination as per policy. Regulatory policy that is supposed to guide delivery of veterinary services, such as the veterinary and paraprofessionals act of 1958 and animal disease acts of 1964, are old, weak and do not provide strong incentives to guide disease control and promote ethical behaviour in the provision of veterinary services in Uganda. As a result, many actors of varying capacities, interests and relevance are involved in providing veterinary services without being effectually regulated. All these actors have different goals, interests and resources, and face conflicting interests. As a result, the veterinary market is flooded with untested inputs especially antimicrobial agents, and even tested inputs are being misused. This has negatively affected the efficacy animal drugs and has led to high prevalence antimicrobial resistance in both animals and humans.
Little is known about rural Ugandan livestock farmers interactions with veterinary vaccines. This includes their access to them, administration, storage and general uptake. Similarly, no research has been conducted to address whether negative experiences with veterinary vaccines affects perceptions of vaccines used in human healthcare in rural remote communities.
This study will ask what role local knowledge of vaccination has on vaccine uptake. It will explore health seeking behaviours when animals present symptoms of notifiable zoonotic diseases, such as Rift Valley Fever, and judge general attitudes to the use of vaccination in both preventative and curative responses. It will study where farmers are accessing vaccines from (markets, pharmacies, animal health technicians, motorbike drug sellers), and map ‘social influencers’ that disseminate information regarding their administration, storage and role in controlling disease outbreaks. Examining the role of local knowledge and its construction is key when preparing outbreak response measures. This is because we must understand who communities first turn to when symptoms of notifiable diseases occur, what responses they are using, and what attitudes they hold towards vaccination. Similarly, when outbreaks of zoonotic diseases occur, it is important to judge whether negative experiences with vaccines used on livestock affects uptake and perceptions of vaccination in livestock keepers and associated family members.
This project will also assist in the study of the acceptability of the new Rift Valley Fever vaccine. As this is one of the first vaccines that is the same for human and animal, it provides a unique case study to assess attitudes/hesitations towards a vaccine that will be administered in this context.