People: Hassaan Bin Aslam, Barbara Haesler, Pablo Alarcon-Lopez

The adoption of modern poultry farming practices has led Pakistan to become the 11th largest poultry producer in the world. But the development in poultry farming is regularly hampered by infectious diseases, such as avian influenza (AI) that causes substantial economic losses through bird mortalities and loss of production. Since the first outbreak of low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) H9N2 in 1998, the virus prevails in backyard and commercial poultry. Despite the availability and routine use of oil based vaccines against H9N2, the disease is still endemic in Pakistan. To evaluate how the diagnostic tools and vaccines developed may best benefit farmers, but also indirectly consumers and other stakeholders at the different levels of the value chain, there is a clear need to understand the economic impacts of AIV infection as well as different intervention strategies.

The aim of our project is to map out the structure of the poultry industry and to determine the cost effectiveness and feasibility of vaccination against avian influenza in different poultry farming systems.

Commissioning an interdisciplinary perspective, this project will follow a mixed-methods approach for achieving the aim. Qualitative and quantitative data will be collected with semi-structured interviews and questionnaires. Production system maps will be created and cost-benefit models will be developed and applied to understand the economic efficiency of AI vaccination. The health belief model will be used as a framework to analyse and interpret the barriers and incentives for the adoption of interventions.

The outcomes of this study will be helpful to support the decision-making process of both farmers and stakeholders to adopt novel practices in controlling avian influenza virus. This project is jointly funded by Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Department of International Development (DFID), Economics and Social Sciences Research Council (ESRC), Medical Research Council (MRC), Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) within the context of the ZELS (Zoonosis and Emerging Livestock Systems) initiative.

The collaborators are:

Pakistan: University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences Lahore and National Agriculture Research Council, Islamabad

UK: The Pirbright Institute

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