Background: The capacity to conduct zoonotic pathogen surveillance in wildlife is critical for the recognition and identification of emerging health threats. The PREDICT project, a component of United States Agency for International Development's Emerging Pandemic Threats program, has introduced capacity building efforts to increase zoonotic pathogen surveillance in wildlife in global 'hot spot' regions where zoonotic disease emergence is likely to occur. Understanding priorities, challenges, and opportunities from the perspectives of the stakeholders is a key component of any successful capacity building program.
Methods: A survey was administered to wildlife officials and to PREDICT-implementing in-country project scientists in 16 participating countries in order to identify similarities and differences in perspectives between the groups regarding capacity needs for zoonotic pathogen surveillance in wildlife.
Results: Both stakeholder groups identified some human-animal interfaces (i.e. areas of high contact between wildlife and humans with the potential risk for disease transmission), such as hunting and markets, as important for ongoing targeting of wildlife surveillance. Similarly, findings regarding challenges across stakeholder groups showed some agreement in that a lack of sustainable funding across regions was the greatest challenge for conducting wildlife surveillance for zoonotic pathogens (wildlife officials: 96% and project scientists: 81%). However, the opportunity for improving zoonotic pathogen surveillance capacity identified most frequently by wildlife officials as important was increasing communication or coordination among agencies, sectors, or regions (100% of wildlife officials), whereas the most frequent opportunities identified as important by project scientists were increasing human capacity, increasing laboratory capacity, and the growing interest or awareness regarding wildlife disease or surveillance programs (all identified by 69% of project scientists).
Conclusions: A One Health approach to capacity building applied at local and global scales will have the greatest impact on improving zoonotic pathogen surveillance in wildlife. This approach will involve increasing communication and cooperation across ministries and sectors so that experts and stakeholders work together to identify and mitigate surveillance gaps. Over time, this transdisciplinary approach to capacity building will help overcome existing challenges and promote efficient targeting of high risk interfaces for zoonotic pathogen transmission.