Zoonoses research in the Horn of Africa: a scoping review

The One Health concept is of particular importance to the Horn of Africa region, where people’s livelihoods are highly dependent on livestock and their shared environment. Zoonoses have a dramatic impact on both human and animal health in the region, and can have a substantial economic impact on livestock owners.

In order to help focusing future research efforts on zoonoses in the Horn of Africa efficiently, we conducted a scoping review aiming at describing what zoonoses have been studied where and how and to identify how well past research efforts have addressed local concerns.

We assessed 2055 eligible publications focusing on over 60 different zoonoses, in seven countries of the Horn of Africa. We observed a growing trend of literature on endemic zoonoses in the region, with diseases like brucellosis attracting the highest focus in research. We found that research efforts don’t align systematically with zoonoses priority lists where those have been established. Diseases like Q fever, anthrax and leptospirosis continue to be overlooked. Despite zoonoses being a clear One Health field of research, a very limited proportion of studies met the COHERE standards[1] for One Health research. Epidemiological descriptive and observational studies were the dominant approach in those studies and we found only a low proportion of multidisciplinary publications. Finally, we observed that, like for other fields of research in Africa, international collaborations were mostly North-South with a higher number of authors whose affiliation were outside from the country of focus, except for Ethiopia.

[1] Davis MF, Rankin SC, Schurer JM, Cole S, Conti L, Rabinowitz P, et al. Checklist for One Health Epidemiological Reporting of Evidence (COHERE). One Health. 2017 Dec 1;4:14–21.

This work has been presented at the 3rd OHCEA international One Health Conference in Kampala, Uganda, July 2019; the 11th European Congress on Tropical Medicine and International Health (ECTMIH) in Liverpool, UK, September 2019; and the 6th World One Health congress, which happened online in November 2020 (see Figure 1 below). It also supported the latest One Health zoonotic diseases prioritisation workshop organised in Ethiopia in August-September 2019.

A publication of the results in an international peer-reviewed journal is underway.

Figure 1. Poster presented at the 6th World One Health Congress