Jakarta, July 22, 2019 – In the last 25 years, a number of forest land in Indonesia was opened and converted into economic plantation types and other coverings. Forest conversion and land-use change potentially increase emerging infectious disease’s transmission to humans and lead to ecosystem services loss which resulting an economic loss.
Considering the points above, Indonesia One Health University Network (INDOHUN) in collaboration with the University of Minnesota and EcoHealth Alliance conduct a collaboration research project entitled Disease Emergence and Economic Evaluation of Altered Landscapes or known as DEAL which was funded through USAID’s investment in forestry and biodiversity. DEAL project was implemented in three provinces in Indonesia, including Riau, East Kalimantan, and West Papua. The objective of the study is to understand how land use change contribute to disease emergence in Indonesia, with an emphasis on malaria threats and estimate the economic costs of human health effects due to deforestation.
Although it is widely understood that percentage of disease that emerge from animal to human has significant number and land use change has the potential to be the significant driving factor of this diseases. Our understanding to approach this issue is – and what we have to do about it- limited.” said Tim Meinke, Senior Infectious Diseases Advisor, USAID Indonesia. “United States of America is proud to be able facilitate this multi-sectoral research collaboration, and we believe that DEAL has given an initial idea of the association between land use change, health and economy perspective and has given recommendation for further dialogue, research, and policy in this area in the future” he added.
Prof. Wiku Adisasmito, DVM, M.Sc, PhD as DEAL’s principal investigator added “Currently, research assessing the impact of land use change to health are still limited in Indonesia . DEAL is the first international collaboration research which examined the contribution of land conversion to malaria and its economic evaluation. This research can be a baseline study for the upcoming research in the related subject”.
Based on the research, malaria positive rate in Riau at district level will increase 5 cases per 100,000 person/year if there is an increase in secondary forest fragmentation (area more than 5km2). In East Kalimantan at district level, malaria positive rate will increase 787 cases per 100,000 person/year if there is a 1% deforestation of primary forest cover. In West Papua’s district level, malaria positive rate will increase 9,982 cases per 100,000 person/year if there is a 1% deforestation of secondary forest cover.
To assess the association between malaria and land-use change, we need to understand the complex set of risk factors and the vector life cycle. This research only examined deforestation of forest cover, forest fragmentation/patches, and rate of malaria positive using aggregate data. Considering this limitation, further research is required to obtain comprehensive understanding about this relationship.
DEAL also developed an economic model to calculate the optimal land-use conversion using palm oil production as the study case. This model can be used and adopted using other variables adjusted with local economic activity and data availability. Therefore, land conversion activities should not only focus on the profit, but also considering the social cost related with the disease emergence and ecosystem services loss.
Considering the potential impact of land use changes to zoonotic disease, it requires an integrated information system between environment, forestry, health, and economic sectors at district, province, and national level. Furthermore, this study also highlighted the importance of coordination and collaboration across sectors, especially between Ministry of Health, Ministry of Environment and Forestry, and Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs. Government of Indonesia needs to consider the impact of land use change to diseases and the loss of ecosystem services in environmental protection and management plans (RPPL: Rencana Perlindungan dan Pengelolaan Lingkungan hidup), strategic environment study (KLHS: Kajian Lingkungan Hidup Strategis), regional spatial plans (RTRW: Rencana Tata Ruang Wilayah) in Indonesia.
“The results of this study should be considerations for the government of Indonesia to oversee the impact of land use changes to health. It is important to have further research to prevent and control potential zoonotic diseases that related to land use changes”, said dr. Anung Sugihanto, M.Kes, Director General of Disease Prevention and Control, Ministry of Health.