Jennika Virhia

Title: Exploring animal and human health seeking pathways in agropastoral communities in Northern Tanzania

About Jennika: Having witnessed firsthand the importance of livestock to the livelihoods of people living in Tanzania, Ghana and India I am very grateful to be working within a broad interdisciplinary network of fellow researchers working towards the common goal of reducing the burden of zoonoses to people living in impoverished areas. I have a BSc in Geography and an MSc in Environment and Sustainable Development, both from the University of Glasgow and I am keen to bring the knowledge and skills I have gained throughout these degrees to this ZELS project. I have previously conducted research on local perceptions of coastal and marine ecosystem services in Tanzania which I believe ties in well with the ZELS projects which aim to consider human, animal and environmental health as one and not as disparate entities. 

I am very much looking forward to embarking on my 2nd year of my ZELS-AS PhD where, with renewed focus, I can put the theory and literature to practice in the field. I can only imagine that the knowledge acquired, experiences gained and connections made will match, if not surpass, the year before.

Contact Jennika:; Twitter: @jennika23; Skype: jvirhia

About the Project: There are three dimensions to my project. Firstly, in the recognition that so socio-cultural context is important for understanding and adopting health interventions I am aiming to understand local aetiologies and epistemologies of health, illness, maladies and treatments with a particular focus on vaccines. This will then give a broader appreciation of the different routes people take in seeking both human and animal healthcare – drawing on pathways analysis inspired from social autopsy methods to document this. Subsequently, I am aiming to undertake a qualitative social network analysis to determine who the main gatekeepers of knowledge on health treatments and vaccines are and how this is accessed by members of the community. The intention of undertaking these three objectives is to gauge how network embeddedness impacts upon an individual’s agency to access animal and human healthcare in an agropastoral context.

I am based at the University of Glasgow and will spend substantial amounts of time in pastoral and agro-pastoral areas in Northern Tanzania. This PhD studentship is linked with the project investigating Social, Economic and Environmental Drivers of Zoonoses in Tanzania (SEEDZ) (Co-PIs: Prof. Sarah Cleaveland and Prof. Jo Sharp). The inter-disciplinary supervisory team will be drawn from researchers at the University of Glasgow, Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology, Tanzania, and partner institutions in the ZELS consortium, with expertise in qualitative understandings of health, epidemiology, and social sciences.

Supervisor: Prof Jo Sharp (Main supervisor, Glasgow), Dr Alicia Davis (Glasgow) and Dr Emma Laurie (Glasgow), Dr. Gabriel Shirima (Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology)