Student Research: Erica Grant

, Environmental and Occupational Health (EOH), 2017
Faculty Advisor: Peter Rabinowitz

Protecting gorillas by protecting people: A "One Health" approach to conservation and community health


Abstract

Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP) is dedicated to the conservation of mountain gorillas in East Africa, using an intensive emergency veterinary approach to support the recovery of this highly endangered species. Based on the concern that gorilla health is threatened by exposure to human pathogens, MGVP launched a program to fill critical health service gaps for its employees. In 2001, MGVP started the Gorilla Conservation Employee Health Program (GCEHP), which includes annual health evaluations, follow up care, and health education for those who come into contact with the gorillas most often. The practicum project objective was to develop a cloud-based electronic medical recordkeeping (EMR) system to help GCEHP realize its full potential by making health records easier to input while maintaining high data quality standards and allowing the human health data to be integrated with the gorilla health syndromic surveillance data. The Clinical Research Management System (CRMS) by Medical Decision Logic, Inc. was selected as the platform for GCEHP and forms based on previous program activities were built and tested in CRMS. This project highlights the importance of long-term planning for health record management in resource limited settings. The benefits of electronic data collection systems are not unique to GCEHP and other organizations might follow MGVP’s lead in taking a proactive approach toward worker health. Demonstrating program effectiveness can be challenging, but with a sound data collection infrastructure, the benefits of addressing worker and community health as it relates to wildlife conservation may be realized. The EMR system can be expected to improve consistency and quality of prospective health data collected through GCEHP. Recommended next steps involve previously collected records, primarily the cleaning and import of records into the new database in order to take advantage of the rich longitudinal data collected through this innovative employee health program.