Jennika Virhia

me polka dot dressAbout: Having witnessed firsthand the importance of livestock to the livelihoods of people living in Tanzania, Ghana and India I am very grateful to be working within a broad interdisciplinary network of fellow researchers working towards the common goal of reducing the burden of zoonoses to people living in impoverished areas. I have a BSc in Geography and an MSc in Environment and Sustainable Development, both from the University of Glasgow and I am keen to bring the knowledge and skills I have gained throughout these degrees to this ZELS project. I have previously conducted research on local perceptions of coastal and marine ecosystem services in Tanzania which I believe ties in well with the ZELS projects which aim to consider human, animal and environmental health as one and not as disparate entities. I am looking forward to returning to Tanzania with the aim of gaining a better understanding of how people perceive zoonoses and what barriers or parameters influence the adoption of vaccinations and health interventions.

Title: Exploring animal and human health seeking pathways in agropastoral communities in Northern Tanzania

 With the title in mind, there are three dimensions to my project. Firstly, in the recognition that so socio-cultural context is important for understanding and adopting health interventions I am aiming to understand local aetiologies and epistemologies of health, illness, maladies and treatments with a particular focus on vaccines. This will then give a broader appreciation of the different routes people take in seeking both human and animal healthcare – using a methodology which tracks the sequence of remedial actions in response to a period of ill health. Subsequently, I am aiming to undertake a qualitative social network analysis to determine who the main providers of support, help, advice and information are during times of illness and how this is accessed and acted upon by members of the community. The intention of undertaking these three objectives is to gauge how network embeddedness impacts upon an individual’s agency to access animal and human healthcare in an agropastoral context.

I am based at the University of Glasgow and will spend substantial amounts of time in agropastoral areas in Northern Tanzania. This PhD studentship is linked with the project investigating Social, Economic and Environmental Drivers of Zoonoses in Tanzania (SEEDZ) (Co-PIs: Prof. Sarah Cleaveland and Prof. Jo Sharp). The inter-disciplinary supervisory team will be drawn from researchers at the University of Glasgow, Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology, Tanzania, and partner institutions in the ZELS consortium, with expertise in qualitative understandings of health, epidemiology, and social sciences.

Supervisors: Professor Jo Sharp, Dr Alicia Davis and Dr Emma Laurie (University of Glasgow), Dr. Gabriel Shirima (Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology)

Contact details: E-mail: j.virhia.1@research.gla.ac.uk; Twitter: @jennika23; Skype: jvirhia