Poultry production has doubled globally in the past 20 years, fuelled by population growth and urbanisation. Today, more than 1 trillion eggs and 122 million tonnes (2020 figures) of poultry meat are produced each year.
However, rapid intensification of poultry production can come with big public health risks. These include:
- Widespread bacterial food poisoning
- The emergence of diseases with epidemic – even pandemic – potential, such as avian influenza
- The development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR)
The COVID-19 pandemic illustrated clearly how diseases that spread from animals (zoonoses) do not respect national borders. Disease prevention and management is now a global issue of concern to us all – and there is now an urgent need to meet the growing demand for low-cost poultry meat and eggs in a way which lowers the public health risks for people both locally and internationally. This is most evident today in South and Southeast Asia.
The UKRI GCRF One Heath Poultry Hub is an impact-driven development research programme working in Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. Taking an interdisciplinary and intersectoral ‘One Health’ approach, we are exploring how rapid expansion of poultry production increases risk of infectious disease and why certain processes and behaviours are risky.
We are also testing novel interventions for disease control.
With strong networks of local, regional and global stakeholders, the evidence we generate is being put to immediate use by those who can make a difference.
Safer poultry systems
Safer poultry systems in Asia will contribute to meeting the nutritional needs of poor people. They will reduce the risk of ‘zoonoses’ spilling over from chickens to people, decreasing the incidence of food poisoning in consumers locally and the threat of disease outbreak globally.
Safer poultry systems will also bring economic and wellbeing benefits to poultry farmers and others in the poultry supply chain, as well as improve the poultry industry as a whole, contributing to local, national and regional development.
Sustainable Development Goals
In this way, our work directly addresses the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 2 (Zero hunger), SDG 3 (Good health and wellbeing) and SDG 12 (Responsible consumption and production). These broader development goals remain at the heart of our work.
The One Health Poultry Hub is funded for five years by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), and our work also aims to meet the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office’s priorities.