June 14, 2021
Zoetis initiative improves livestock health in Sub-Saharan Africa with 1.7 billion doses of vaccines and medicines
Livestock health and farmers' livelihoods have been dramatically improved in Sub-Saharan Africa, following the administration of 1.7 billion doses of vaccines and medicines and over 650,000 diagnostic tests through Zoetis' African Livestock Productivity and Health Advancement (ALPHA) initiative, now in its fourth year.
The initiative — founded in 2017 with a US$14 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — is dedicated to improving animal health and livelihoods in the region by increasing access to quality veterinary vaccines, medicines and services, diagnostic laboratory networks and animal health training.
In four years of activity, Zoetis has made significant progress in establishing the infrastructure and training to improve the state of animal health and productivity. Ten new fully operational serology laboratories have been established across Nigeria, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda. Additionally, 13,234 farmers, veterinarians and para-veterinarians have been trained, with an estimated extended reach of 657,800 people through ‘train-the-trainer' programmes.
ALPHA is helping Zoetis meet its aspirations to grow veterinary care in emerging markets under its new "Driven to Care" long-term sustainability goals, which build on the company's purpose to nurture the world by advancing care for animals.
Glenn David, executive vice president and group president at Zoetis, said: "Studies show that when households in a developing region acquire livestock, they report higher income, improved nutrition and better access to financial resources. Animal health is extremely important in contributing to sustainable development goals and economic opportunities in Africa."
"Over the last four years, we've demonstrated that greater access to medicines and technology can help farmers raise healthier animals and secure a more productive and sustainable food supply and income. The progress being made is critical to the economic development of the region and well-being of its people, especially as they face COVID-19 and worsening famine rates," said David.
Through dedicated regulatory activities, Zoetis submitted 85 veterinary products for registration approval. The company also delivered 35 products — primarily for preventative care — to the markets, in addition to Zoetis' diagnostics portfolio in ALPHA-covered countries, which are all crucial components of sustainable development in the animal health sector. Four years ago, there were just four Zoetis products available to farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa to address the health of their herds.
Reducing mortality and morbidity through better prevention, detection and treatment of animal disease can significantly shrink the footprint of farming in all regions and increase productivity, Zoetis said. This means strengthening diseases surveillance, vaccinating animals and increasing the use of diagnostics and training in responsible antibiotic use for bacterial treatments.
Unique solutions improve animal health and sustainability through cold-chain management
"The ALPHA initiative has helped vets enhance their technical knowledge, while also helping farmers improve productivity and make the sector more sustainable. Farmers in the region now embrace better farming practices, improving their profitability, income and quality of life," said Dr. Ibrahim Ado Shuhu, president of the Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA).
One of the key learnings of ALPHA in the last four years is the importance of cold chain management for vaccines until the last mile, Zoetis said.
Given most vaccines can get spoiled in cases of temperature fluctuation resulting from frequent power supply issues, ALPHA supplied specialised refrigerators to 21 partners through five-year sponsorship agreements (to safeguard equipment use). These Lite Vaccine Refrigerators with remote temperature monitoring devices can work without a power supply, which ensures vaccines are kept within their acceptable temperature ranges independently from power fluctuations.
Dr. Funmi Ojelade, lab veterinarian at Nigeria-based Chi Lab, said: "The greatest impact of the ALPHA initiative is that it's reaching out to grassroots poultry farmers providing innovative solutions, education and diagnostics to help them reduce costs and losses on their farms. Animals are healthier, more productive and enable farmers to improve their livelihoods."
The impact of ALPHA, and more generally of community development through livestock productivity, supports better livestock health for more nature-positive, protein production that measurably improves natural resource use efficiency, limits the need for new farmland and supports a growing population, Zoetis said.
"Unique in our approach is the sustainability angle, which is essential to encourage a mindset shift in the livestock sector towards entrepreneurialism and ownership," said Dr. Gabriel Varga, regional director Sub-Saharan Africa at Zoetis and lead of the ALPHA initiative.
"Empowerment of the farming and veterinary sectors is critical to enable Sub-Saharan Africa to meet the rising productivity needs of the region in a sustainable manner."