Vaccine agency to reduce loss of human and animal life in developing countries is launched

The Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicine (GALVmed) recently unveiled animal health projects it will tackle over the next ten years.

GALVmed announced progress on vaccine and treatments for Newcastle disease in poultry and East Coast fever and Rift Valley fever in cattle at its international launch at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), in Nairobi, on Friday 9 March 2007. This marked the beginning of a 10-year program aimed at creating sustainable solutions to the loss of human and animal life caused by livestock diseases, which threaten 600 million of the poorest people in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

GALVmed, a non-profit organization funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), is partnering with private and public-sector organizations around the world. It has identified 13 livestock diseases as key targets for development of livestock vaccines and animal health diagnostics and medicines. Founder members of the agency include the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), FARM-Africa, Pfizer, Intervet and Merial. GALVmed exists to broker partnerships among pharmaceutical companies and other public and private-sector organizations to develop accessible and affordable animal vaccines for the whole world’s poorest farmers.

Zoonotic diseases, which are transmitted between animals and humans, mainly afflict the poorest households, as evidenced by the recent outbreak of Rift Valley fever in livestock in Kenya, which killed 150 people. Brian Perry, a senior scientist at ILRI, warns that ‘Today, combating livestock diseases is everybody’s business – tropical animal diseases are no longer “just a local problem”. For example, there is a threat that diseases like Rift Valley fever will follow bluetongue into Europe.’

GALVmed’s chief executive Steve Sloan explains that ‘Every year, poor farmers worldwide lose an average of a quarter and in some cases half, of their herds and flocks to preventable disease. This devastates developing economies. Many of these are zoonotic and so also cause human deaths.

Livestock play a critical role in helping people escape poverty. Livestock disease is one of the greatest barriers to development for poor livestock keepers. Flocks and herds die every year from diseases for which vaccine simply do not exist or are beyond the reach of the poor. John McDermott, ILRI’s deputy director general for research says, ‘ILRI scientists and partners have done ground breaking science to develop an experimental vaccines to protect cattle against East Coast fever. The next steps are to conduct trials to facilitate the delivery of this vaccine to the farmers. To do that, we need specialist partners who will test, manufacture and market the vaccine and make it accessible and affordable to the thousands of livestock keepers afflicted by this cattle killing disease.

Click here for the GALVmed News release.

To find out more about GALVmed visit the website

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