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Improving lives by solving problems in agriculture and the environment

Veterinary experts meet to advance animal health and productivity for African farmers

Veterinary experts meet to advance animal health and productivity for African farmers

21 September 2017 - Animal health experts from Africa and the Middle East met in Abuja, Nigeria on 12-14 September to agree common research priorities for Africa and explore sharing of resources and facilities to maximise the impact of research in advancing the health and productivity of livestock.

Sub-Saharan Africa is home to some of the largest livestock populations in the world and has the highest density of impoverished livestock farmers. It is estimated that more than 50 per cent of the people in this region live on less than $1 a day, and depend on livestock which provides approximately 45 per cent of the total family income. Livestock are an essential asset to rural communities, and the health of livestock is critical to achieving food security in regions where there is exceptionally high incidence of livestock and human disease. At the same time, some parts of Sub-Saharan Africa are also seeing increasing demand for quality livestock products from its growing population, which is becoming more urbanised and affluent. Research is needed to find solutions to the problems experienced by Africa’s livestock farmers, including production diseases and major infectious diseases. Infrastructure and networks are needed to bring the solutions to the field.

“This strategic veterinary research funders and programme-owners summit organised by STAR-IDAZ and CABI represents an excellent example of how together we could continue bringing innovative solutions to animal diseases and zoonoses in Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Theo Kanellos, Director of Business Development and Alliances of Zoetis. “Forging effective public/private collaborations in Africa will significantly accelerate the advancement of health and productivity of livestock which are an essential asset to rural communities and critical to food security in areas with high animal and human disease incidence.” Zoetis is leading several such collaborations and initiatives in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The meeting was followed by the Nigerian Animal Health Research Forum, 15 September. This brought together key persons from animal health research, the veterinary profession and industry in Nigeria to coordinate epidemiological surveys and veterinary laboratory activities for diagnosis and control of animal diseases, and increase collaboration between research, farming and industry. The meeting decided to form a Nigerian Animal Health Research Network chaired by Dr David Shamaki of the National Veterinary Research Institute, Vom. Dr Shamaki said, “Coordination of research will make the best use of scarce resources and help develop solutions to problems in the livestock sector which is vital to the lives of many people in Nigeria and across Africa.”

Dr Alex Morrow, Chair of the International Research Consortium, said, “These meetings, organised with the support of Zoetis, will help move forward coordination of the research effort to find innovative solutions to the many disease challenges of the livestock sectors, some of which are unique to Africa and the Middle-East. By working together we can speed up the development of new and improved disease control strategies which are essential to protect animal and human health.”

STAR-IDAZ IRC (Global Strategic Alliances for Coordination of Research on Major Infectious Diseases of Animals and Zoonoses – International Research Consortium) is a global initiative that coordinates research programmes, at the international level, in animal health. It strengthens the links between and reduces the duplication of the global animal health research effort on high priority animal health issues, maximises the efficient use of expertise and resources, and accelerates coordinated development of control methods.

STAR-IDAZ IRC (www.star-idaz.net) is supported by an EU funded project.

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