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Training Communities in Livestock-Derived Food Safety and Hygiene in Chitwan District, Nepal


The objective of this collaborative activity is to document the nature and extent of human health risks associated with meat and other sources of animal protein in four communities of Chitwan District, and to implement public health education programs based on research results by creating a new block within the Social Mobilization curriculum for veterinary students at IAAS.

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There are three main livestock industries centered in Chitwan District. 1) Meat (buffalo, swine and small ruminants): The major human health hazard associated with the consumption of meat in Nepal is the contamination of meat at butchering facilities by bacterial and waterborne diseases. There is no abattoir system in Chitwan District. Most meat is processed by small roadside or market butchers in unhygienic conditions. With increasing access to veterinary pharmaceuticals, antibiotic residues in meat are cause for growing concern. Diseases associated with household storage and preparation also occur. 2) Dairy (cattle and buffalo): Most dairy production is by small holdings (one to five animals per family) that sell to dairy cooperatives. Concerns include diseases that can be spread through milk, such as brucellosis and tuberculosis, because they are difficult to control due to the prohibition against slaughtering cattle in Nepal. Another serious concern is the presence of antibiotic residues in milk. There are also human health risks associated with household storage and preparation of milk and dairy products such as yogurt and cheese. 3) Poultry and Eggs: The poultry industry in Chitwan district has grown rapidly in the past decade. There are several commercial poultry meat and egg facilities in the area, and many family small holdings have intensive backyard rearing facilities in which 1,000-10,000 birds are raised at a time. Intensive rearing of poultry requires a carefully scheduled regimen of vaccinations and prophylactic treatments. Concerns include antibiotic residues in meat, salmonellosis and other bacterial diseases in meat and eggs, as well as diseases associated with household storage and preparation.

In Nepal poverty reduction is the overriding development challenge. Over 90% of the labor force is employed in agriculture, accounting for more than 50% of gross domestic product (GDP), while nearly 40% of the population lacks access to basic healthcare and education. Frequent outbreaks occur of diseases linked to livestock-derived food, antibiotic withdrawal periods are often ignored by farmers, and many butchers are unaware of zoonotic, meat-borne disease hazards. Safe sources of livestock-derived foods are vital to Nepal's development, and basic public knowledge concerning the preparation of such food vital to the improvement of human health in Nepal. The objective of this collaborative activity is to document the nature and extent of human health risks associated with livestock-derived food in four communities, and to implement public health education programs based on research results by creating a new block within the Social Mobilization curriculum at IAAS (Institute for Agricultural and Animal Sciences) Veterinary School.

This project involves two interrelated strategies: research and intervention/education. The research will involve purposeful, participatory information gathering targeted towards problem solving. Four municipalities in eastern Chitwan District have agreed to be part of this project. All four are within the Chitwan National Park buffer zone, and have well developed VDCs. In each municipality, initial fieldwork will establish a baseline assessment of household and community access to resources related to livestock-derived food. Student and faculty team members will use participatory techniques to identify and map sources of food, and roles and responsibilities concerning food procurement and processing at the household level. In addition, access to community level resources will be documented, such as human and veterinary hospitals, dairy cooperatives, poultry companies, butchers, and markets, as well as the number and availability of services provided by veterinarians, doctors and healers. Institutional analyses, based on key informant interviews, will also be conducted of public (government) and private (non-governmental and for profit) organizations. Also at the household level, structured surveys will be developed to obtain information on responsibilities concerning food preparations, sources of household meat and milk, veterinary treatments for animals, livestock illnesses, human illnesses, and the level of public health knowledge related to food and food-borne diseases. In addition to these sociological methods of information gathering, biological samples will be taken for testing at several levels. At butcheries and markets, samples will be taken for the identification of zoonotic parasitic and bacterial organisms, as well as the presence of water-borne hazards such as cryptosporidium. At the household level, samples will be collected and bacteriological room temperature kits used for the identification of zoonotic pathogens in milk, milk products and meat. In addition, screening for tuberculosis, brucellosis and antibiotic residues in milk will occur at the household and collective levels. Intervention will occur at two levels: in the education of veterinary professionals directly responsible for the safety of livestock-derived foods, and within the communities in which they learn and work. Institutionalization of these interventions will occur by incorporating all intervention efforts into the IAAS Social Mobilization program. A new public health component of the Social Mobilization curriculum at IAAS Veterinary School will be developed, based on the foundations of information gathering/research, education/intervention, and program monitoring/replanning. The purpose is to ensure that this program, once created, has a sustainable home. Data and research reports will be provided to veterinary students in the program. Participatory communication and information gathering techniques will be discussed, as well basic data organization and analysis. Using this foundation, students in the course will be charged with developing and implementing a community-based intervention and education program in the four project municipalities.

Jost, Colleen
Tufts University
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