Purpose of the IRT
Animal health has undergone an almost unprecedented increase in importance in the last century and is today inextricably linked to our local and global economy as well as societal issues such as public health, food and food security. Animal pathogens also affect humans and of the more than 1400 pathogens that affect humans as many as 60% are zoonotic, indicating that the disease can be transmitted from wild and domestic animal to humans.
This overlap in veterinary, human and ecological health sciences requires what is covered by the “One Health” concept, a collaborative effort of multiple disciplines – working locally, nationally, and globally – to attain optimal health for people, animals and our environment. To focus and optimize research in this area we need a collaborative effort with a multidisciplinary approach to tackle all aspects of the research and management of zoonoses and animal diseases. We also need the best and most relevant tools to address the disease-related research questions.
The sheer complexity involved in understanding these diseases requires intense and sustained collaboration across a broad range of stakeholders. The AZD-IRT therefore directs its efforts toward becoming a Centre of Excellence: a knowledge-sharing hub that can further optimise cooperative research in zoonoses and animal diseases. The pathogens and pathogen vector hosts under study show little regard for artificially drawn borders. In this respect, we too should follow their example by ignoring traditional, self-limiting boundaries.
To establish a highly regarded research focus area in the field of animal health and zoonoses as an IRT at the University of Pretoria that will gain high local and international standing by its leading role in South Africa and the African continent.
To have the institutional research theme “Animal and Zoonotic Diseases” recognized as a centre of excellence that makes an important contribution to the benefit of human and animal health and trade in animals and animal products in South Africa, Africa and the rest of the world.
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