Scientific challenge

Zoonotic diseases are infectious diseases that are naturally transmitted between vertebrate animals and humans. They:

  • make up over 60% of emerging infectious disease events
  • are evolving in response to multiple environmental change drivers including environmental degradation, agricultural intensification, forest loss, human settlement and climate change
  • impose huge costs to economies, health and livelihoods
  • disproportionately affect resource-poor communities in tropical countries
India Health Systems relationships diagram
Fig. 1. Stakeholders and actors involved in the Health Systems response to zoonotic diseases in India

Understanding and effective management of zoonotic diseases requires collaboration of policy-makers and managers from across the animal health, human health, agriculture and environment sectors, across district, national and international levels (Fig.1). This One Health approach recognises the "interconnectedness of human health, wildlife and domestic animal health and the environment" (Fig. 2).

Illustration of One Health concept
Fig 2: the One Health concept
(image by Thddbfk under CC Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license)

Surveillance, decisions and policy need to be better integrated across these sectors. Research that leads to informatics to support management decisions, like maps and forecasts, must be informed by the knowledge, priorities and needs of local disease managers and policy-makers. Though many quantitative models have been published for zoonotic diseases, these tend to be poorly linked or scaled to policy and only consider a narrow range of relevant risk factors.

The IndiaZooSystems project, focusing on India as a key global hotspot for endemic and emerging zoonotic diseases, considers how data and expertise across the human health, animal heath, agriculture and environment sectors could be combined to develop new quantitative models and tools for zoonotic diseases to inform management.

Project Objectives

This inter-disciplinary One Health project aims to reduce health, welfare and livelihood impacts of zoonotic diseases by better understanding links between surveillance, knowledge, research and models across sectors and improving current information systems that support intervention.

The research underpinning these improvements will include:

(1) Mapping of key stakeholders in each sector, their priorities and needs for decision-support tools

(2) Identifying where surveillance data, knowledge and skills exist and could be leveraged across sectors to better understand and manage zoonotic diseases

(3) Understanding the full range of potential socio-ecological drivers that might cause disease impacts to increase

(4) Interpreting geographical patterns in disease impacts in relation to environmental data within models to disentangle social, climate and landscape factors precipitating disease for case-study diseases and settings and, in turn, predicting outcomes of intervention

(5) Building capacity in research, data analysis and cross-sectoral collaboration to underpin future One Health approaches in India.

Improved decision-support tools will help disease managers to better target vaccination and communication efforts towards the communities that are most at risk and help managers in agriculture and environmental sectors to understand how, for these communities, disease impacts may coincide with other negative impacts of environmental change. The project platform and approach of co-developing research and decision support tools on zoonotic diseases with stakeholders across sectors will build significant capacity in science, policy and practitioners to respond to these emerging and endemic global threats.

Project outputs to date

Asaaga, F.A., Young, J.C., Oommen, M.A. et al. Operationalising the “One Health” approach in India: facilitators of and barriers to effective cross-sector convergence for zoonoses prevention and control. BMC Public Health 21, 1517 (2021).

Training course in One Health and models for zoonotic diseases.

Project Partners

UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology – Dr Beth Purse, Dr Festus Asaaga, Ms Jennifer August, Prof. Juliette Young (Fellow)

ICMR-National Institute of Epidemiology, India - Drs Manoj Murhekar & Jeromie Thangaraj

ICAR-National Institute of Veterinary Epidemiology and Disease Informatics (NIVEDI), India - Dr Mudassar Chanda

Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy (CDDEP), India - Dr Jyoti Joshi

ICMR-Vector Control Research Centre, India – Emeritus Professor S.L. Hoti


The IndiaZooSystems project (Integrating participatory approaches and traditional models to strengthen One Health responses to zoonotic diseases in India's changing environments, 2018-2021) is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), the Medical Research Council (MRC) and Wellcome under the Health Systems Research Initiative [Grant Nos. MR/S012893/1 & MR/S012893/2]. It is approved by the Indian Government’s Health Ministry Screening Committee.



Further information

If you would like to know more about the IndiaZooSystems project, please contact the Principal Investigator, Dr Beth Purse