Laura Craighead

Title: ZELS Economics of brucellosis control in periurban dairy farming systems in West Africa

About Laura: After graduating as a veterinary surgeon in 2007 I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work in many African and Asian countries. I soon realised that putting my veterinary knowledge to work within the developing world setting was my passion and I was really driven by experiencing the impact and dependance on animals, in particularly livestock in such a large proportion of the world. It soon became evident to me that one of the major constraints to productivity in this setting and a major risk to public health was the ever present zoonotic diseases. These experiences lead me to undertake a masters in Veterinary Epidemiology and pursue research within this field.

I am very excited and grateful to be given the opportunity to be part of the doctoral training within the ZELS programme. After working for some time on zoonotic diseases affecting developing nations, I was keen to gain further training by undertaking a PhD. This studentship offers a great platform to undertake such training as part of a large interdisciplinary cohort. I am looking forward to being part of the team at the RVC looking into the many intertwined elements of brucellosis control within West Africa. Undertaking a project within this interdisciplinary team will facilitate a much wider impact on understanding and implementation of affective control strategies for this important zoonotic disease.

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Outline: Periurban dairy farming is an expanding livestock system in West Africa where it contributes to food security and dietary diversity by supplying milk and dairy products to rapidly growing urban populations. Available evidence suggests that the impact of brucellosis in this system is among the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa. This project will address the socioeconomic and regulatory constraints to brucellosis control, enabling the implementation of a new generation of sustainable, mid-to-long term, prevalence reduction programs for brucellosis in this expanding production system. This PhD studentship is linked to a project funded by the ZELS initiative and it will align with others in the ZELS Associated Studentships (ZELS-AS) programme through common interests in developing interdisciplinary approaches to tackle zoonotic diseases. The PhD project will be closely related to parallel activities to be carried out under the umbrella of the ZELS project and is expected to combine qualitative and quantitative methods from psychological theory and economics to generate detailed understanding of socioeconomic drivers for the adoption of control strategies against brucellosis, including estimates of economic impact at farm level and a comprehensive assessment of the social, regulatory and institutional barriers for the implementation of a control strategy based on vaccination. Although brucellosis will be used as a case study, project outputs will be relevant for other infectious diseases that are endemic among periurban dairy farms in the region. The study will involve key stakeholders currently working on animal health issues in West Africa to ensure maximum policy impact. Study results will be incorporated into capacity building activities planned as part of the ZELS project within which this PhD project will take place.

Supervisor: Javier Guitian (RVC)