Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka believes that zoonotic disease is controllable by simultaneously working to improve the health of humans and animals, at the points where they meet.
Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, Uganda, a veterinarian and scientist, works at the intersection of human and animal health. Her work addresses the well being of human communities and wildlife where they interact, in order to contain the spread of zoonotic diseases, with global implications for a world trying to cope with the Covid pandemic. Dr. Gladys was a finalist for the 2020 Tällberg Eliasson Global Leadership Prize.
When we started at CTPH people were like, “Why are you combining conservation and public health? Why are you combining animal health and human health?”…but we’re glad to see that we’re seeing benefits…We’re seeing win-win situations for both people, animals and the environment”. — Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka
2020 will be remembered as the Pandemic Year, when a deadly pathogen somehow moved from bat to human—and the rest is history still being written. Six out of 10 infectious diseases are zoonotic: everything from COVID and the other coronaviruses to rabies, West Nile, even the plague. In a Croesus-like effort to break the cycle, Denmark recently killed 17 million farmed mink to try to prevent further human infection—but that seems immoral as well as stupid.
Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka has a better idea. Dr Gladys, as she is known, believes that zoonotic disease is controllable by simultaneously working to improve the health of humans and animals, at the points where they meet. Her work, primarily with the mountain gorillas of Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, has contributed not only to resurgence in the gorilla population, but also to an improvement in the health and welfare of the human communities that live around the Park.
She explains her approach in this episode of New Thinking for a New World.