Infectious Disease Emergence and Economics of Altered Landscapes: IDEEAL Project

The IDEEAL project is funded by USAID and implemented by EcoHealth Alliance, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, local NGOs, our industry and Malaysian government partners.


The Problem


Land-use change refers to all human modification on the Earth’s surface. Though humans have been modifying natural landscapes for thousands of years for economic (e.g. agriculture) or demographic (e.g. urbanization) reasons, the current extent and rate of land-use change is unprecedented, and drive significant alterations to ecosystem function and other biological processes.


Examples of Land Use Change



Land-use change due to anthropogenic activities (e.g. agricultural intensification, urbanization) can shape the landscape in which pathogens, hosts and humans interact. This may influence disease dynamics, movement and behavior of wildlife hosts, and spatial separation between humans and wildlife.


Changes to landscape influence disease dynamics



The majority (~60%) of the emerging infectious diseases over the past six decades, from SARS to Ebola and HIV, have an animal origin, with nearly half of them linked to changes in land-use patterns. Aside from the complications related to human health, land-use change causes loss of ecosystem services such as crop pollination, carbon sequestration, food and fiber.


What causes emerging infectious diseases?



Leveraging existing data sets and ongoing pathogen surveillance, the program’s economic model will project expected costs attributable to disease emergence as a function of land use change. These costs—from care and treatment, emergency response, and containment to travel and trade restrictions, border closures, and market shocks— provide valuable information for discussion among governments, the private sector and civil society to define optimal land use policies.


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