NEW YORK September 20, 2013 EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit organization that focuses on local conservation and global health issues, announced the award of a three-year, $2 million award to address land use alteration as a significant driver of both disease emergence and climate change in Asia. The funding for the new program was awarded by U.S. Agency for International Development, Regional Development Mission for Asia (RDMA).
Over 60 percent of emerging infectious diseases over the past six decadesfrom SARS to pandemic H1N1 and HIVhave originated in animals, with nearly half linked to land use change, agricultural intensification, or changes in food production. Land alterations accelerate the pace and diversity of human and animal contact, enabling pathogens to spill over from animal populations, a first spark in the chain of events that ignite global pandemics. Simultaneously, deforestation and forest degradation resulting from land alterations account for between 14 to 17 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, a rough equivalent to the entire global transportation sector. The key to reducing the threat from diseases of pandemic potential and slowing climate change is a more comprehensive understanding of how functional ecosystems mitigate disease emergence and enhance carbon storage.
In partnership with the Sabah Wildlife Department and University of Malaysia Sabah, EcoHealth Alliance will apply data from the Kinabatangan basin in Sabah, Malaysia to value the infectious disease regulatory role of ecosystems. By capturing value from disease avoidance as a significant component of total ecosystem services valuations, the work is expected to yield actionable, economically sound strategies to promote reduced impact land use policy. "This project will set the agenda for how we can bring together international development, health and environmental programs under one umbrella. By building a partnership with government and the private sector,
|Contact: Anthony M. Ramos|