Our One Health Initiative.
A single tick on the back of a cow in rural India may seem inconsequential; in fact, it can have significant impact on the lives of rural Indian communities.
When a spider spins her web, its silken strands all connect so that, anywhere in the web an insect lands, the spider can feel it. Similarly, all living things in an area are connected to each other by invisible threads; what affects one member of a community will affect all. This happens within and between species. For example, an infectious disease affecting one animal in a herd will affect many others. Some of these, called zoonotic diseases, can also affect humans. Some of the many factors that sicken or weaken animals are internal and external parasites, poor nutrition and sanitation, and unskilled animal husbandry.,
Even if humans do not contract diseases from animals, the health of the animals influences human health. A healthy animal can produce more offspring than a less healthy one, and can supply more milk for human consumption. Milk production, in turn, has multiple effects. Of course, a plentiful supply of milk supports good nutrition in the village, particularly important for the growth and development of children. But, because of the economic structure of the village society, a high milk yield will also have an impact on the economic potential of the village.
Most adults in the village earn their living by working the fields of the land owners. Although a husband and wife may work together in the same field, the land owner pays the wages to the man. Therefore, the woman gains no financial independence from field labor, and she has little say over how the money is spent. By contrast, whatever money a woman makes by selling milk from her cows, buffaloes, or goats is hers to spend as she sees fit. This empowers the woman, allowing her to make financial decisions.
How can we set in motion the changes that will help people lift themselves out of poverty? One way is to improve the health of the dairy animals that hold these communities together, and which represent a path to a more prosperous life.
It has been demonstrated through many studies that when women make financial decisions, they are more likely to invest in the health and education of their children, laying the foundation for lifting their families out of poverty. As more women are thus empowered, the fortunes of entire communities can rise. It doesn’t happen overnight. It may take many generations; but it has to start somewhere.