Posted in | News | Climate Change

Disparities in Research into Climate-Influenced Zoonotic Disease

Climate change increases the risk of animal-borne (zoonotic) diseases that can spread to humans, whether from birds, bats, pigs, or mosquitoes.

Disparities in Research into Climate-Influenced Zoonotic Disease
Laboratory worker in the Rodolphe Mérieux laboratory of Bamako, Mali. Image credit: Mérieux Foundation.

Digital Science, a technology company that serves stakeholders across the research ecosystem, has published a report on the global research response to climate change and zoonotic diseases in the context of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on climate and health.

Dr. Briony Fane, Ann Campbell, and Dr. Juergen Wastl from Digital Science investigated published research, policy documents, research funding, and citation data using Dimensions’ data. They also combined Dimensions data with one of the publicly available World Bank datasets using Google BigQuery (GBQ).

The researchers have emphasized global disparities in research funding, research collaborations, and research recognition based on geographic and socioeconomic location.

What is apparent is that governments around the world are investing large sums of money as part of the global mission to halt the spread of animal diseases and to protect the public against zoonotic disease outbreaks before they become pandemics that pose a risk globally,” the authors noted.

The investigators added, “Many of the health impacts associated with climate change are a particular threat to the poorest people in low- and middle-income countries where the burden of climate sensitive diseases is the greatest.”

The observations highlight:

  • Since the implementation of the SDGs in 2016, research publications in the fields of zoonotic diseases and climate change have more than doubled.
  • In these research fields, low-income country investigators outnumber high-income country scientists by a factor of 40.
  • Government and non-profit organizations in the Global North (generally, developed nations) provide a large portion of their funding for research in these fields in the Global South (developing nations).
  • Patterns of research collaboration show that scientists in the Global South are more likely to connect with scientists in the Global North than vice versa.
  • Despite having a strong presence in these fields, lower-income countries’ research on zoonotic diseases and climate change is less well-cited by higher-income countries.

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