By: Norsaiful Bahri Abdul Habib
BELUM (Perak) – Some 35 students from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) and Department of Public Health Medicine, Penang Medical College (PMC) recently conducted a field attachment trip in response to zoonotic infections primarily transmitted by dogs among the Jahai community at Sungai Tiang, Belum Forest.
Project leader, Prof. Dr. Abdul Rashid Khan said the study on this group of indigenous people was conducted to develop One Health intervention strategies to break the chain of zoonotic infections transmitted by dogs living within the community.
“The trip is part of a research grant from Malaysia One Health University Network, a network under the USAID One Health Workforce project, to study knowledge, attitude and practices,” he said.
He added that the Jahai Orang Asli community who formed a marginalized tribe living in the forests was facing problems with the increasing stray dogs in their community.
“Lack of care can potentially lead to the emergence of zoonotic infections in human as a result of transmission via these dogs. As part of the intervention from the One Health Workforce, students were able to instil knowledge and bring awareness of the potential morbidity and mortality associated with zoonotic infections transmitted by dogs,” he added.
Tribe leader, Ah Chong said Jahai people who were generally hunter gatherers, used dogs for hunting purposes. However, due to uncontrolled breeding and lack of general predators, the number of dogs that lived as strays had grown to 100.
“The dogs run around without proper care or healthcare, including vaccinations or deworming procedures,” he said.
Meanwhile, student Chong Jia Jie rom the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, UPM, said participating in the first phase of the project where he was able to interact with the community, was a great experience.
“The group met in the morning on Banding Island and started their journey to the location by a house boat.
“This trip teaches me to appreciate these people who have been neglected and need our kindness, both humans and animals. It is always better to give rather than to take,” he said.
The day’s project centred around a group of students performing data collection, which included a questionnaire on knowledge, attitudes and practices of the Jahai community on zoonotic infections transmitted by dogs, while another group collected blood and swab samples from the stray dogs.
In total, 175 people responded to the survey and 35 dog samples were collected. Beyond the data collection process, the students had the opportunity to share information on the awareness of potential risks associated with stray dogs.
Learning was not one sided as the students were able to learn about the Jahai community as well as their social and cultural structure besides getting to know each other.
The trip ended with briefings by Prof. Dr. Abdul Rashid Khan of PMC and Dr. Lau Seng Fong of UPM the next afternoon. The UPM and PMC team began their long journey home with better understanding of human, animal and environment interactions and appreciation of the importance of working together to achieve a common goal.
The second phase of the project, scheduled for May, will provide another opportunity for students and lecturers to share knowledge and experience to become effective One Health workers and ambassadors. - UPM
Updated:: 30/03/2017 [hairul_nizam]