122. The United Kingdom is committed to implementing Article 66.2 of the TRIPS Agreement. Having submitted our full Annual Report to the Council, this delegation would like to provide this Council with an insight into one of the many projects undertaken by the United Kingdom.
123. The Zoonoses and Emerging Livestock Systems Project (ZELS) is a joint multistakeholder research initiative between the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council; Defence Science and Technology Laboratory; Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office; Economic and Social Sciences Research Council; Medical Research Council, and Natural Environment Research Council. The project focuses on two elements: 1) reducing the impact of zoonoses, that is, a disease that has jumped from an animal to a human, on people from low socio-economic groups and their livestock by generating new knowledge and evidence that enables the mitigation of risks from zoonotic disease; and 2) forging mutually beneficial inter- and multi-disciplinary partnerships between researchers in the UK and developing countries and enhance the scientific capabilities of southern partners for the longer term.
124. Behavioural adaptations in live poultry trading and farming systems and zoonoses control in Bangladesh (BALZAC) is one of 11 programmes funded under ZELS. The trade in live birds provides smallholders with an important source of income and can provide a route out of poverty. However, it can also play a major role in the transmission of zoonotic pathogens, such as avian influenza viruses. The scientific evidence to inform the selection of risk-based and cost-effective prevention and control options for major zoonotic diseases which contributes to decreasing the likelihood of occurrence, prevents their transmission to humans, and reduces their impact on human health. In the face of disease outbreaks in poultry, farmers and traders worry about economic loss.
125. They may change practices in order to reduce such loss, altering the structure of the trade networks. These changes may, in turn, modify the way disease spreads, and even prolong and strengthen the epidemic. This four-year project studies the behaviour of people working in the Bangladeshi poultry farming and trading system. It aims to identify the socio-economic, cultural, and epidemiological factors that shape the structure of live bird trade networks in Bangladesh, and the types of changes in the network structure which could facilitate the emergence of zoonotic pathogens and influence their maintenance and dissemination.
126. Based on this understanding of the underlying system behaviour, BALZAC seeks to develop control and surveillance strategies tailored to the evolving characteristics of live bird trade networks. Employing an inter-disciplinary perspective, the project would involve a combination of traditional ethnographic techniques, such as observations and semi-structured interviews, innovative techniques using methods developed in experimental economics, biological sampling from both humans and poultry, and the development of joint epidemiological and socioeconomic models.
127. The structure of the network shaped by the movements of live bird traders influences the potential of a pathogen to invade the poultry population, the scale of the epidemic, and the level of human exposure. Avian influenza viruses, and in particular H5N1, would be used as a model to study the traders' and farmers' responses to disease risk. The approaches we would adopt in this research would produce both specific local knowledge and more general knowledge which would be useful for understanding influenza outbreaks and even some aspects of other animal and human infectious disease outbreaks and pandemics in other parts of the world. The United Kingdom is happy to discuss its projects in more detail with Members as appropriate, and we are looking forward to the workshop on this important topic to take place next year.