Importance of intersectoral co-ordination in the control of communicable diseases, with special reference to plague in Tanzania

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Human health, agriculture, including livestock, energy, education, wildlife, construction, forestry and trade sectors are inter-related and their co-ordination is an important pre-requisite for successful control of most communicable diseases including plague. Similar linkage between research, policy, training and extension activities in each sector are essential for any successful control strategy. Inadequate agricultural produce, inaccessibility of people to the available food and ignorance on proper preparation and usage of available food materials are responsible for malnutrition, and malnourished people are very vulnerable to disease. Irrigation schemes facilitate breeding of various disease vectors and transmission of some communicable diseases. Forests are ecologically favourable for ] some disease vectors and reservoirs for tsetse flies and rodents, while deforestation leads to soil erosion, lack of rainfall and consequently reduced productivity in agriculture which may result in poor nutrition of the population. Wildlife and livestock serve as reservoirs and/or carriers of various zoonoses including plague, trypanosomiasis and rabies. Lack of proper co-ordination of these sectors in communicable disease control programmes can result in serious and undesirable consequences. Indiscriminate killing of rodents in order to minimize food damage by these vermin forces their flea ectoparasites to seek alternative hosts, including man, a development which may result in transmission of plague from rodents to man. Similarly, avoidance of proper quarantine during plague epidemics, an undertaking which is usually aimed at maintaining economic and social links with places outside the affected focus, can result in the disease becoming widespread and consequently make any control strategies more difficult and expensive. It is generally concluded that inter and intrasectoral linkages are inevitable and close co-ordination between and within various sectors is essential for successful control of communicable diseases. Regular professional workshops involving researchers, extension officers and policy makers from all relevant sectors are recommended



Human health, Irrigation schemes, Intersectoral co-ordination, Communicable diseases, Plague