DELIA GRACE1, THOMAS RANDOLPH2, PETER-HENNING CLAUSEN1
1Freie Universität Berlin, Institute of Parasitology and International Animal Health, Germany
2International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Livestock & Human Health, Kenya
African farmer-families depend on livestock for food, growing crops for subsistence and sale, savings and meeting social obligations. With high levels of animal disease, farmers rely on animal health drugs to safeguard their livestock; drug resistance puts this strategy at risk and has implications for human health. We present some preliminary results of a research project working on resistance to trypanocides in West Africa. We found that trypanocides are the single most important veterinary drug and that most treatments are given by farmers. Epidemiological studies and Participatory Rural Appraisals demonstrated the importance of trypanosomosis and the reliance of farmers on trypanocides to control this disease. We also confirmed the finding of previous studies, that drug resistance to trypanocides is widespread -- a phenomenon linked to the overuse and misuse of drugs. As a contribution towards the project objective of safe-guarding the use of trypanocides, we assessed the strategy of training farmers in Rational Drug Use. Residential training was given and farmer field schools held in 6 villages in south-west Burkina Faso; the content and process of these are summarised. Evaluation at the end of training and at 1 year follow-up showed that farmers had significant improvements in knowledge and competencies after training. We also found beneficial effects on the health of their animals. We draw comparisons with studies on Rational Drug Use in human health; these have shown the benefits which can be obtained by Rational Drug Use interventions and have identified the criteria for success. We discuss the constraints to wider implementation of this type of initiative in animal health. These constraints are mainly due to a disabling policy environment, in which the interests and needs of farmers are marginalised. Recommendations are made for the resolution of these constraints.
Keywords: Animal health, drug resistance, policy environment, rational drug use, training