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20 November 2018

Exploring the WHYS and the HOWS of epidemiology

Integrating social sciences with veterinary research for better understanding and action towards improved animal health in the Global South

Photo: Erika Chenais, SVA. ©

Better understanding of the multi-level reality of people’s lives in the local context, and the associated implications for the implementation of control interventions, is critical for achieving control of disease transmission.

Controlling animal diseases is critical for reducing rural poverty and increasing household livelihood resilience in many contexts. For many recurring diseases threatening the livelihoods of poor people, the epidemiology is well known. Despite this, effective control is not achieved. It is clear that veterinary or medical knowledge alone is not sufficient to achieve disease control and that understanding local sociocultural, economic and political dimensions is equally important. Integration of social sciences into epidemiology has so far been limited and social science competence also remains at the periphery of disease outbreak management.

The importance of community involvement, and the need for full integration of social sciences in disease control was painfully evident in the recent Ebola epidemic in West Africa. The understanding of how human behaviour drove transmission of the disease, achieved through a multi-disciplinary, biosocial, bottom-up and community-centred approach and drawing on social science competence, was critical when the epidemic was eventually brought under control. The Ebola outbreak will be used as an example during the workshop.

This workshop will focus on how veterinary epidemiology and social science can cooperate for increased understanding of aspects other than factual knowledge that affect decisions relating to disease control.

The workshop aim is to develop new networks and share experiences on the integration between social sciences and veterinary research for improved understanding and action towards animal health in the Global South.


For more information contact Erika Chenais or

The event will be broadcasted, please contact Alin ( for registration.


From 20 November 2018 at 12:00 to 20 November 2018 at 17:00


Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) Uppsala, Ulls hus, Lecture hall W. Almas Allé 8, 756 51 Uppsala

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12.00      Lunch outside Lecture hall W

13.00-16.30     Presentations

Klara Fischer, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU): Where is the participation in participatory epidemiology? How engagement with social science could lead to improved understanding of situated knowledges on animal disease

Orla Shortall, The James Hutton Institute: The politics of epidemiological knowledge: geographies of acceptance and resistance of a bovine disease eradication scheme in Scotland.

Erika Chenais, The Swedish National Veterinary Institute (SVA): Increasing the local relevance of epidemiological research: situated knowledge of cattle disease amongst Basongora pastoralists in Uganda

Susanna Sternberg Lewerin, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU): Veterinary social science: on Ugandan cattle farmers’ disease prevention practices

Karl Ståhl, The Swedish National Veterinary Institute (SVA): Improved disease control by community participation – the case of African swine fever in northern Uganda

Paul Richards, Wagenigen University: Local understanding of Ebola – some lessons from West Africa

Panel discussion with Paul Richards, Orla Shortall, Susanna Sternberg Lewerin and Karl Ståhl. Moderated by Klara Fischer

16.30      Closure with coffee

For Participants