“Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.” Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous aphorism may apply to mousetraps, but certainly not to all inventions, even those with potential to markedly improve lives and livelihoods. To the contrary, one of the great challenges in global health and development is to understand what determines whether a technology—such as a new vaccine, water collection system, or improved crop variety—is adopted and used. While the Allen School is heavily engaged in the discovery and development of new disease prevention and treatment tools, we are also mindful that these advances are only impactful if they are adopted. As you will read in “Notes from the Field,” interdisciplinary doctoral student Zoe Campbell is conducting research in Tanzania to understand why households decide to vaccinate their chickens, a critical nutritional and economic resource for smallholder families in east Africa,
against the leading cause of poultry death, Newcastle disease. While research has shown the vaccine is highly effective, use among rural households remains low. By understanding what factors lead a household to adopt the vaccine and those constraints that limit adoption, we can develop strategies to overcome the barriers to widespread use and ensure the full benefit of the vaccine. Importantly, women most commonly make the decisions on household chicken production. Understanding how women in low income and vulnerable communities make decisions is critical to improving health, not only in Africa, but here in the United States. In collaboration with WSU’s School of Economic Sciences, the Allen School has successfully recruited a new faculty member with specific expertise in female gender decision-making and the impact on health. Dr. Shanthi Manian will join WSU in August, strengthening our capacity to not only discover and develop new technologies, but to ensure they have the impact on health and opportunity that is central to the Allen School’s mission.
Creighton Endowed Chair and WSU Senior Director of Global Health