Greetings, I am very excited to have the opportunity to blog on Wildlife Direct and be able to tell you about the work we are doing in Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH). Conservation Through Public Health is a grassroots NGO and US registered non-profit founded in December 2002 with a mission to promote conservation and public health by improving primary health care to people and animals in and around protected areas in Africa. Our vision is to prevent and control disease transmission where wildlife, people and their animals meet while cultivating a winning attitude to conservation and public health in local communities.
We started our first program in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, home to half of the world’s estimated 760 critically endangered mountain gorillas. While working as veterinary officer for Uganda Wildlife Authority in 1996 I led a team that investigated the first scabies skin disease outbreak in this extremely fragile population of mountain gorillas resulting in the death of an infant, that was traced to people living around the park who have very little basic modern health care and information on preventable zoonotic diseases. This made us realise that you cannot maintain the health of wildlife without taking into consideration the health and livelihoods of the people who they share a habitat with, particularly if they are closely genetically related such as people and great apes who share more than 98% genetic material.
We work closely with partners from different sectors including Uganda Wildlife Authority, Ministry of Health, Kanungu District local government, surrounding communities, NGOs, corporates and our donors to implement three integrated programs: Wildlife Health Monitoring, Human Public Health and Information Education and Communication. In this blog we will mainly be reporting the work that we are doing in the Wildlife Health Monitoring and Human Public Health programs. Wildlife Direct has very generously allowed us to have a second blog to report the work we are doing in the Information Education and Communication program, which revolves around establishing multipurpose community telecentres for protected area communities to be able to learn how to use internet to improve their livelihoods, while learning how sustaining their livelihoods depends on healthy people, healthy wildlife, healthy ecosystems and sustainable ecotourism. We are looking forward to sharing with you our experiences, challenges and needs to continue this important work.
I would like to greatly thank everyone who has supported us so far, we would not have got this far without your encouragement and support. Last month was a very exciting month for Conservation Through Public Health. On 13th May 2009, Her Royal Highness Princess Anne presented me with the Whitley Gold Award for our work in Bwindi, this is a highly prestigious award given to grassroots nature conservationists making a real impact where they are working. We will use the funds from the award to better measure the conservation impact of our integrated public health and wildlife health monitoring work in Conservation Through Public Health. For more information please visit our website Conservation Through Public Health.