Life by the river

Neglected worm infection in Western Siberia and pitfalls of a one-size-fits-all control approach

  • Research Paper by¬†Olga Zvonareva, Peter Odermatt, Ekaterina A. Golovach, Marina M. Fedotova, Yulia V. Kovshirina, Anna E. Kovshirina, Olga S. Kobyakova & Olga S. Fedorova
  • Received 03 May 2017, Accepted 29 Aug 2017, Published online: 18 Sep 2017

The One Health movement aims to provide integrated responses to problems that emerge at the intersections of human, animal, and ecological health. However, it risks derailment due to over-reliance on top-down global responses and generalisations that often fail to fit real-world settings.

In this article, we examine the case of parasitic Opisthorchis felineus infection in Western Siberia and argue that understanding the local social dynamics of disease exposure and transmission, and how people live their lives in interactions with other species is crucial for making One Health work in practice.

This qualitative study was conducted in preparation for developing an opisthorchiasis control programme and involved 20 in-depth interviews, participant observation, and multiple unstructured interviews in the village of Melnikovo. We explored the social dynamics of O. felineus transmission and designed a participatory model of these dynamics.

This model attests to the specificity of transmission dynamics in Western Siberia and demonstrates the importance of understanding this public health issue as embedded in social networks and animated by a variety of locally-specific linkages between ways of life, food and health cultures, health-care systems, economies, and landscapes.

Our work highlights that such participatory approaches have to be an integral part of One Health interventions if these interventions are to be effective and legitimate.

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