Living Safely with Bats: A One Health Educational Resource

Cover artwork created by Ava Sullivan and Stephanie Martinez
Published: 24 March 2022
Last edited: 24 March 2022
remove_red_eye 437 Views

Summary

As part of a public health communication strategy related to the identification of a novel filovirus in bats in West Africa, an initiative was launched to create a widely accessible One Health educational and risk communication resource for community outreach. A moderated picture book was developed, titled Living Safely with Bats, that now has been adapted, translated, and used in more than 20 countries in Africa and Asia. This product includes text and artwork developed by a consortium of public health, veterinary health, conservation, bat, and disease ecology experts from 29 countries. The book is a collection of evidence-based prevention measures which encourage community members to live safely with bats and avoid exposure to potential zoonotic threats.

Classifications

Region
East Asia
East and South Africa
North Africa
North and Central Asia
South Asia
Southeast Asia
West Asia, Middle East
West and Central Africa
Scale of implementation
Local
Ecosystem
Agro-ecosystem
Cropland
Forest ecosystems
Grassland ecosystems
Orchard
Tropical deciduous forest
Tropical evergreen forest
Tropical grassland, savanna, shrubland
Theme
Access and benefit sharing
Biodiversity mainstreaming
Local actors
One Health
Outreach & communications
Poaching and environmental crime
Species management
Species Conservation and One Health Interventions
Risk communication, community engagement and behaviour change
One Health
Animal health
Biodiversity-health nexus
Food systems
Health related aspects of socio-economic factors such as poverty, education, social security structures, digitalisation, financing systems, human capacity development 
Neglected tropical diseases, emerging infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases, zoonoses, antimicrobial resistance
Wildlife trade and human-wildlife conflicts
Challenges
Land and Forest degradation
Loss of Biodiversity
Poaching
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Changes in socio-cultural context
Health
Lack of food security
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Poor governance and participation
Sustainable development goals
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
SDG 15 – Life on land
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 13: Safeguarding genetic diversity
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 18: Traditional knowledge
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge
Sendai Framework
Target 1: Reduce global disaster mortality by 2030
Target 5: Increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020

Location

Guinea | Bangladesh, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, DRC, Ghana, Guinea, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Nepal, ROC, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Thailand, Vietnam

Challenges

After the detection of Bombali ebolavirus (BOMV) in Sierra Leone and in response to identified knowledge gaps about zoonotic disease transmission risk during the 2013-16 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, an initiative was launched to create a One Health educational resource to help communities manage their exposure risk to pathogens found in bats. This resource aimed to facilitate informed discussions on ways to reduce contact and disease transmission risk and to include information of the beneficial ecosystem services that bats provide.

Beneficiaries

 Beneficiaries include communities living in close contact with bats, the bat populations themselves, and the surrounding wildlife and natural and built environment present in the communities. 

How do the building blocks interact?

The presence of each of these building blocks was essential to ensuring their collective success – without local knowledge and the collaboration of technical experts, the risk communication demonstrated throughout this project would not have been effective or useful. A clear communication strategy between local actors and collaborators ensured all of the relevant information was captured and translated into comprehensive books for wide audiences. Each of these building blocks amplify each other, resulting in better health outcomes for people, wildlife, and their environment.  

Impacts

Living Safely with Bats is an educational and risk communication resource that was developed with the goal of mitigating infectious disease spillover from bats through accessible risk communication. This educational tool which aims at addressing behavior, knowledge and attitudes around risky human-bat interfaces, is an example of essential primary prevention efforts towards pandemic prevention. Stopping spillover is the most cost effective and timely strategy for the pressing challenge of mitigating epidemic and pandemic risk to avoid crises like COVID-19, and offers under-utilized strategies compared to post-emergence strategies like vaccines and drug therapies. From school sessions to town halls, to government-facing conferences, the resource was used in countries throughout Asia and Africa as both the focal point of educational programs and as a supporting resource for larger One Health efforts. The book had increased impact as it is a low-barrier resource which is easily translated or used as a visual aid in instances where literacy is low.

Story

Living Safely with Bats has been used as a risk communication and education resource across many communities. The booklet remains a flexible tool which can be adapted to local contexts.  Living Safely with Bats has been translated in over 15 languages, and also provides messaging which can be applied to diverse settings, from classrooms to townhalls.

In Cote d’ Ivoire, the PREDICT team conducted community outreach using the Living Safely with Bats and risk communication resource. Copies of the bat book were distributed by a community leader during a visit in April 2019, and a presentation of Living Safely with Bats was also conducted within the village via projector. In addition, during the joint FAO, IPCI, LANADA, DSV and PREDICT training mission, farmers were made aware of related community risks, such as safe livestock practices , the advantages of vaccinating animals, and the economic importance of rural livestock.

In Guinea, over 5,000 people in the at-risk communities where PREDICT surveillance and sampling activities occurred were engaged in risk communication efforts and educational outreach from October 2018 until the completion of the project in September 2019. In order to reach more of the general public, the PREDICT-Guinea team worked with rural radio stations in Guinea to broadcast an interactive podcast program entitled “Health for All”. The podcast was specifically focused on the messages in the Living Safely with Bats booklet and was broadcast in French along with 4 other major Forest Region dialects (Kissi, Toma, Guerzé and Malinké). The program based off of the messaging from ‘Living Safely with Bats’ was broadcast weekly for several months through the entire Forest Region on channels accessible to >1.9 million individuals. 

 

More stories about the Implementation of Living Safely with Bats can be found in PREDICT-2 Final Report:  https://ohi.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/sites/g/files/dgvnsk5251/files/inline-files/PREDICT%20LEGACY%20-%20FINAL%20FOR%20WEB_0.pdf

Contributed by

sullivan_41652's picture

Ava Sullivan EcoHealth Alliance