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Tropentag 2021, September 15 - 17, hybrid conference, Germany

"Towards shifting paradigms in agriculture for a healthy and sustainable future"

Healthy Animals for Healthy Lives in Low and Middle-income Countries

Vish Nene, Hung Nguyen

International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Kenya


The animal and human health programme at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) seeks to effectively manage or eliminate livestock, zoonotic and food-borne diseases that matter to the poor through the generation and use of knowledge, technologies, products and approaches, leading to higher farmer incomes and better health and nutrition for consumers and livestock. We present 4 examples from the program’s research showcasing the importance of livestock health research in low- and middle-income countries in Sub-Sahara Africa and Asia, and how we apply the One Health approach.
Many transboundary animal diseases, such as African swine fever (ASF), do not cause disease in humans, but they have a devastating effect on the livelihoods of poor farmers – ASF was once limited to Sub-Sahara Africa, over the past decade its impacts have been felt around the globe; at ILRI we have been working on diagnostics and vaccine candidates for more than 15 years as well as on controlling ASF in Africa and Asia by strengthening biosecurity, movement controls and communication.
Three-quarters of new human diseases emerge from animals; for most of those with pandemic potential, domestic animals are involved. During the COVID-19 ILRI supported the Government of Kenya in routine testing and surveillance by offering the state-of-the art veterinary laboratory because a veterinary laboratory does not discriminate between a human or an animal sample.
Rift Valley fever was first reported from East Africa and we have contributed to developing a decision-support framework protecting around 50 million people in East Africa – since the World Health Organisation considers it another viral disease with the potential for a pandemic, our research may contribute to the health of many more people. We have also helped test the efficacy of a new RVF vaccine in cattle, sheep and goats. The same vaccine is suitable for use in humans.
At the same time neglected zoonoses continue to impose a huge health burden on poor people, reduce the value of their livestock assets and may foster the use of antimicrobials which lead to new problems such as antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Our programme is studying these drivers and is developing interventions for surveillance and control of neglected tropical diseases and reducing AMR such as the use bacteriophages, viruses that infect and kill bacteria.
Most of the food in low- and middle-income countries is sold in unregulated markets. Instead of banning these markets, our research generates evidence on how to gradually improve them. The introduction of technologies, policies, training and certification for informal milk traders benefiting 6.5 million consumers in India and Kenya and generating tens of millions of dollars in economic benefits. We support national food safety working groups in countries to translate research into interventions to improve food safety. However, what works in one place, may not work elsewhere; therefore, we also look at interventions that failed and how to avoid this.
The programme outputs have been instrumental in global initiatives, for example, in the World Health Organisation strategy for cysticercosis control and the Global Alliance for Livestock Medicines. The ILRI Animal and Human Health programme thanks all donors & organisations which globally support its work through their contributions to the CGIAR Trust Fund.

Contact Address: Vish Nene, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Naivasha, Kenya, e-mail: v.nene@cgiar.org

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