Exploring new partnerships and business potential for vaccination against Newcastle Disease in Kenya

By: Rahul Srivastava, Marketing Officer for South Asia at GALVmed and Dr. Samuel Adediran, Assistant Director for Global Access at GALVmed

GALVmed, in partnership with the African Technical Veterinary Association (ATVA), recently organised a Newcastle Disease awareness programme for association members. The programme was for those who may be interested in seizing business opportunities regarding backyard poultry vaccinations against Newcastle disease. This initiative directly reaches out to para-veterinarians and is expected to stimulate uptake of vaccination against Newcastle disease, which is the main killer for poultry.

The meeting, which was held 21 November 2014, sought to build further public partnerships through the involvement of local veterinary authorities. The training followed a series of sensitisation programmes held in Nakuru and Siaya counties on the business potential of vaccination against the Newcastle disease.

Animal health technicians fulfil important tasks in the animal health sector in Kenya and other parts of Africa as far as the provision of primary animal health care to resource poor livestock owners is concerned. In all counties of Kenya, AVTA members are active in providing animal health service in remote villages where such services are often not available.

During the meeting, Roggers Mosha, GALVmed’s Project Manager for the Newcastle disease discussed in detail the backyard poultry business potential focussing on Newcastle disease vaccination and deworming as examples. He shared further insights on managing vaccination campaigns to ensure sustainable income stream to vaccinators and Agrovet shop owners, in what he described as “a win-win formula”.  Special precautions to assure effective vaccination with thermo-tolerant vaccine were described in detail with some field examples. This kind of service to the large backyard chicken population may be explored as a lucrative source of additional income to the para-veterinarians and community health workers.

Rahul Srivastava, GALVmed’s Marketing Officer for South Asia, encouraged participants to tap into the unexplored business avenues in animal health at village level using inspiring rags-to-riches poultry experiences in India. According to Rahul, the bottom of the pyramid encompasses a large base of poultry keepers that has immense business potential to explore.

Mr. Benson Oduor, President of ATVA thanked GALVmed for their partnership and encouraged the para-veterinarians in Nyeri County to seize the opportunity of the training and demonstrate their capacity to provide such services in rural areas. He observed that this could be an eye opener for other counties and strengthen the relevance of the vet technicians.

It is expected that such kind of sensitisation programmes will result in significant awareness of the critical role the backyard poultry plays in the local economy.

Seeking the Next Generation of Livestock Trypanocides

The loss of livestock productivity and mortality caused by the protozoan parasites, Trypanosoma congolense andT. vivax, which is transmitted by tsetse and other biting flies, leads to loss of assets and income to the farmers in Africa. The estimated cost is almost $5 billion a year with over 150 million ruminants at risk in tsetse-infested areas.

The losses to trypanosomosis or Nagana are not limited to but are most heavily felt by the poorest livestock keepers.  In 2011, UK Department for International Development asked GALVmed to seek new trypanocides, vaccines and diagnostics to help control this disease.  During Phase 1 of the programme that ended December 2013, GALVmed developed partnerships to establish test systems to evaluate available technologies.  Laboratory testing was carried out primarily at SwissTPH and then, with formulation support from the University of Greenwich, compounds were progressed and further testing occurred at sites in Mozambique (University Eduardo Modlane), South Africa (ClinVet) and Burkino Fassau (CIRDES).  Although none of the potential vaccines were shown to work in a rigorous model, good progress was made in identifying new diagnostics and trypanocidal compounds. This work is continuing in Phase 2.  This article describes our strategy, some of the challenges faced and progress made towards identifying new trypanocides.

Trypanocides are available both to treat (Diminazene), and prevent (Isometamidium, Homidium) trypanosomosis in cattle and other livestock.  Indeed, trypanocides represent one of the largest segments of the animal health market in Africa with estimated sales of branded and generic products estimated at around $100 million.  However, these compounds are over 50 years old and not only do they have narrow therapeutic margins but field resistance to these compounds is growing steadily.  Unfortunately, the potential value of this market has been reduced by widespread availability of sub-standard and fake products.  The lack of understanding of the disease, poor diagnosis and poor efficacy of current products due to drug resistance or intentional and accidental underdosing, coupled with inconvenient to use formulations, means that usage of trypanocides is much lower than required to tackle the disease.  This market risk has resulted in a reluctance of the animal health companies to invest precious research and development funding in the search for new trypanocides.

In contrast, a partnership of academics, pharma companies and not-for-profit PDPs, such as DNDi, has made great progress in addressing human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) or Sleeping Sickness caused by related species,T.brucei rhodesiense and gambiense.  As well as declining cases, there is now a strong pipeline of new, highly-effective drug candidates in development, e.g. fexinidazole and SCYX7158.

GALVmed has adopted a strategy to build on the discoveries made by these groups to leverage their compounds for potential application to animal trypanosomosis.  Our Phase 1 work leveraging the human candidate programmes almost achieved our goal of identifying a development candidate.  AN7973 from Anacor was shown to be very safe and could cure cattle infected with T.congolense by a single 10mg/kg injection.  Unfortunately, T.vivax proved less susceptible to this compound and could not be treated by an economic dose.

Through support from our joint funders, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Government, we have been encouraged to expand our efforts for Phase 2 to leverage the human research with additional collaborations.  Many of the drugs identified for HAT failed due to lack of efficacy against Stage 2 of the disease in which the parasite enters the central nervous system where it is harder to access with the drug.  Other lead compounds failed to provide activity by oral dosing.  Neither of these features are required for a treatment of Animal African Trypanosomosis where the parasites largely live in the peripheral tissues and bloodstream and treatment is more convenient by injection.  We need a compound that is potent and long-lasting so that it can cure or provide prophylaxis by a single injection.  It also needs to be very safe both to the animal and to humans who might wish to subsequently eat the animal or use its milk.

GALVmed has developed screening partnerships with more than a dozen academic and industry groups who have been active in seeking treatments for HAT.  Our partnerships span the globe and include the Universities of Dundee, Strathclyde, Cape Town, Washington, North Eastern (U.S.), Monash (Aus.), research institutes e.g. Broad, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, and companies such as Novartis, Anacor and Celgene.  We have been testing their compounds in the laboratory against the livestock trypanosomes, T. vivax and T.congolense and we have identified a number of very exciting lead structures.  We have already commenced lead optimisation programmes with Anacor, University of Dundee and Celgene Global Health to seek close analogues of these lead compounds that might have the ideal combination of properties to make them candidates for development. The best of these compounds are now being progressed to cattle studies and we have very encouraging results – so watch this space!

CTTBD: Supporting African-led solutions towards sustainable livelihoods in the livestock sector

By: Keith Bohannon, Member Development Officer at Scotland Malawi Partnership

Having grown up in rural Ireland, I am very aware of the importance of agriculture to local communities, particularly in terms of providing livelihoods and stimulating economic activity. In many developing countries this reliance on agriculture is much more pronounced. For example in Malawi, as is the case for most countries in sub-Saharan Africa, almost 80% of the population live in rural areas and survive with very limited resources as subsistence small-holder farmers.

In such an environment where many households keep livestock such as cattle, goats and chickens, maintaining healthy animals can have a huge impact on the sustainability of the people’s livelihoods. This in turn has a huge impact on the opportunities available to members of the household in term of both health and education, particularly women and children.

At the Centre for Ticks and Tick Borne Diseases (CTTBD) launch today I learned that East Coast Fever (ECF) is the single biggest killer of cattle in Africa, killing more than 1 million cattle in the continent every year at an estimate cost of $260m in the east central region alone. Luckily there is a vaccine, in the form of the Muguga Cocktail vaccine. The challenge however is getting this vaccine to the people who need to access it most, where significant barriers exist in terms of access, cost and administrating the vaccine.

Based in Lilongwe the CTTBD is a centre for excellence for veterinary medicine and the only place in Africa that produces the ECF vaccine. The centre not only makes the vaccine but also provides training and support for its distribution and the development of new disease control techniques. Under the auspices of the African Union, in partnership with Scottish-based organisation GALVmed, which is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Government, the CTTBD is truly an example of a global partnership enabling a Malawian-based centre to meet Africa’s needs.

At the launch we were joined by a host of VIPs and delegates, all gathering to give a strong endorsement to the important work of the centre. While it was great to be present to witness such an event I can’t help but reflect that the true impact of the centre will only start after all the formalities are over.  After the speeches and presentations, what we are left with is a real example of mutually beneficial partnerships, which have resulted in an African-owned, and African-run centre, delivering tangible solutions towards sustainable livelihoods and economic empowerment to the region. This truly is something to celebrate.


Follow CTTBD’s launch on Friday 5th December. Use the Twitter hashtag #cttbdmalawi to find out more before, during and after the event!

CTTBD: Reinforcing the business model

Written by: Beatrice Ouma, Communications Manager at GALVmed

The Centre for Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases was officially launched on Friday 5, December 2014. The centre is currently producing the Muguga cocktail East Coast fever vaccine, which will be distributed to up to 11 countries in Africa.

Everybody I have talked to seems to read from the same script. It’s been a long journey for CTTBD to get where it is today, to be able to launch itself as a centre of excellence for vaccine production and training for young scientists in Africa. There have been a lot of challenges along the way. But also, everyone I have spoken to is optimistic about the future of CTTBD. Why? Because there is so much business potential for CTTBD and many hopes riding on the ECF vaccine. And with a deadly disease ravaging parts of East and Central Africa, threatening millions of livelihoods, the vaccine uptake may not be as big of an issue, but rather meeting the demand.

While giving an overview of the vaccine production at the Centre, Dr. George Chaka, the vaccine production manager at CTTBD mentioned that a vaccine batch takes up to 18 months to produce. Science is a slow process and CTTBD wants to make sure that the quality of their vaccine is very good. But just as science cannot be rushed, death waits for no one (or animal for that matter).

Now that it has been launched, CTTBD has been put to task to meet the market demand. No doubt support from the consumer side was demonstrated by the number of people who attended the launch. Three ministers from countries that are potential customers, together with various heads of departments of veterinary services and a host of other dignitaries were there to witness the launch. Both ministers from Kenya and Uganda assured CTTBD of their countries’ support. It means that for CTTBD, it will not be business as usual. Certain gears have to be engaged to ensure a smooth process from production, marketing and selling of the vaccine, to make sure that their end users have a continuous supply of the vaccine.

That is why GALVmed CEO Peter Jeffries said during the launch that we must reinforce the business model for sustainability of not only the production of the vaccine but for the centre as well. And we all have a part to play. A lot of people have already played a part; GALVmed was singled out as having provided a substantial support to CTTBD. Equipment has been bought, capacity has been built and buildings refurbished. Now CTTBD has to take the mantle and fly with it.

Because it’s a matter of life and death.

And as the farmer representative MP Felix Jumbe said during the launch, “We want to see zero death as a result of ECF.”


Follow CTTBD’s launch on Friday 5th December. Use the Twitter hashtag #cttbdmalawi to find out more before, during and after the event!

A vaccine that is transforming lives

Written by: Stuart Brown, Assistant Director of Business Development at GALVmed

Joy is a tough thing to bottle.  To me, this photo, taken by my friend and colleague Dr Victor Mbao goes some way to encapsulating it.  It shows the first moments in which liquid nitrogen was produced at a small laboratory in Lilongwe, Malawi – CTTBD, a lab which is having its official launch today.

“It was like a miracle to see the first spurts and coughs of liquid nitrogen at the end of a pipe going into one of our containers.”,  Victor recalls.   “The joy in members of staff was palpable.  I knew this was the beginning of the journey to reducing the cost of production and delivery of CTTBD’s core product – ECF vaccine.  Before then, nitrogen used to be shipped in from Zambia at great cost and inconvenience.”

The nitrogen is needed to store the vaccine and as CTTBD’s Acting Director, Dr Nkhwachi Gondwe-Mphepo shares, its arrival meant “…immense relief! No more sleepless nights as to when and where to get liquid nitrogen.”  Nkhwachi smiles: “I felt like jumping up and down for joy!  Like the rest of the CTTBD staff, I could not believe the problem of liquid nitrogen was now in the archives.”

It matters so much because the one-shot-for life vaccine protects cattle against ECF.  This is a disease that kills or reduces the productivity of millions of cattle across many African countries, impacting the lives of individuals, families and communities that rely on their livestock for the basics and to fuel their initiatives, enterprises and dreams.

Pictured here wearing a protective glove (the liquid Nitrogen being more than 300 times colder than a household freezer), QA Technician, Mr Kennedy Senzamanja said “That’s one small step for the CTTBD liquid nitrogen plant, one giant leap for the African ECF region!”  To my (non-technical) mind, the development of vaccines is rocket science.  The Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and its forerunner, the International Laboratory for Research on Animal Diseases (ILRAD) researched, developed and produced this Muguga cocktail ECF ITM vaccine.  Many African and international organisations have been part of the vaccine’s story with the baton now passed to the team in CTTBD.

Kennedy’s analogy is also borne out by the personal stories I’ve been told in sub-Saharan Africa by livestock keepers of ways in which the vaccine has transformed their lives.  They speak of their cattle surviving, the size of their herds growing, an increase in income enabling them to pay for education and healthcare. Pastoralists point to very costly dams built on the proceeds of their cattle to prepare for times of drought, to dispensaries, vehicles and children being put through school and some to university.

Joy is a tough thing to bottle, but in the hands of everyone striving to make, distribute and deliver this vaccine, it is a cocktail that also includes big measures of hope, choice and dignity for millions of people.


Follow CTTBD’s launch on Friday 5th December. Use the Twitter hashtag #cttbdmalawi to find out more before, during and after the event!

The CTTBD ECF Vaccine:Greater opportunity to control East Coast fever and other tick-borne diseases in Africa

The Centre for Ticks and Tick Borne Disease (CTTBD) in Malawi is now successfully producing the first batch of East Coast fever (ECF) vaccine, also known as the Muguga Cocktail. Because of this, there is now greater opportunity that exists for more effective control of this ravaging livestock disease in the “warm heart of Africa” and other countries in which ECF is endemic. The vaccine as such is not new, but its successful production at an African Union (AU) institution in Malawi is a milestone to be acknowledged and celebrated. Apart from the technical complexity of production, there were many other institutional barriers that GALVmed and other partners have been addressing to make this production a reality.  Thus, the launching of the vaccine is a milestone – a bridge crossed. But now there are other bridges to be crossed in order to make this vaccine accessible to poor livestock producers. One of these is marketing and distribution of the vaccine to those who need it.

When writing about the challenges of access to animal health products for poor livestock producers in Malawi based on a scoping study, I observed that 90% of livestock in Malawi is in the small-holder systems based in remote villages and locations with poor access to infrastructures and without access to cold chain facilities. In addition, these farmers are poorly organised and lack access to organised markets and sufficient awareness of information and training in animal health practices that could transform their practices into income-generating ventures. Most of them have solely continued keeping livestock as a means of food for their households rather than to also generate money.

In order to take full advantage of the availability of the ECF vaccine, it is necessary to mobilise all resources to promote improved access to markets and information. The challenges to achieve this are not trivial. The technical issues around vaccine pack size and cost of goods are being addressed by relevant institutions. For too long stakeholders who have aimed to provide services to small-scale producers have been working in an uncoordinated and disjointed manner, thus duplicating efforts and wasting scarce resources.

The African lesson of strength in unity of purpose should now be invoked again particularly in the animal health and agriculture sectors. This will require more focussed efforts in public-private partnership. Governments, scientific think-tanks and private business innovators should work together to develop strategies that promote access to animal health solutions for people for whom livestock is a lifeline. The results will be improved vaccine production practices, improved access to high quality nutrition and improved child and maternal health. These outcomes will contribute to the attainment of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals of halving the number of the chronically malnourished and hungry by 2015, while also improving livestock productivity. It will be then the CTTBD-produced ECF vaccine and other animal health products will have truly impacted African society. I look forward to celebrating this milestone.

Written by: Samuel Adediran, Assistant Director of Market Development and Access at GALVmed


Follow CTTBD’s launch on Friday 5th December. Use the Twitter hashtag #cttbdmalawi to find out more before, during and after the event!

Malawi launches the Centre for Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases to Lead in the Fight against East Coast fever Disease

The Centre will be the sole producer of the ‘one shot for life’ East Coast fever Muguga cocktail ITM vaccine that will help protect 25 million cattle across eleven African countries.  

(4th December 2014) – The revamped African Union Centre for Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases (CTTBD) will be launched to help fight the East Coast fever disease which is the single biggest killer of cattle in 11 countries in Eastern and parts of Central Africa.

The launch will be held on Friday 5th December at 2 pm in Lilongwe, Malawi and will be presided over by Hon. Saulos Chilima, the Vice President of Malawi.

The Centre having undergone extensive collaboration with the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed) will now be producing the ‘one shot for life’ Muguga Cocktail vaccine, originally developed by International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and its predecessor, the International Laboratory for Research on Animal Diseases (ILRAD) and the Kenya Agricultural Research institute – now known as the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO).

“Tick-borne diseases are known to be one of the major constraining factors to the development of the livestock industry especially in Africa.  We are launching CTTBD at the right time to enhance the prevention of ECF in the region in order to realize the potential of the livestock industry and to protect human lives and address poverty,” said Dr Nkhwachi Gondwe, Acting Director of CTTBD.

The vaccine will be distributed in up to 11 countries in Eastern and Central Africa where the disease is endemic, killing one cow every 30 seconds and devastating the livelihoods of those who depend on livestock for survival.

CTTBD won the tender to produce the vaccine following a tendering process by the African Union Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) chaired ECF regional task force, comprising government representatives of the four countries currently using the ECF Muguga Cocktail vaccine (Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda), GALVmed, ILRI and Pan-African Veterinary Vaccine Centre (PANVAC).

“Nearly 900 million people in Africa rely on livestock for their livelihoods. When they lose livestock, they lose their source of livelihoods which trickles down to the entire economy. The vaccine being manufactured by CTTBD is a one-time vaccination, protecting cattle for their entire life and securing this vital source of livelihood”, said Peter Jeffries, GALVmed’s Chief Executive Officer.

CTTBD has manufactured and sold animal vaccines for over 30 years. The Centre, which was established by the African Union, produces quality-assured vaccines and offers training in epidemiology, livestock economics, tick-borne disease diagnostics, geographic information systems, risk analysis and control techniques for tick-borne diseases. It looks towards establishing itself as the “Centre of Excellence” for ticks and tick borne diseases on the African continent.

Apart from the Muguga cocktail vaccine, CTTBD produces two other ECF vaccine stocks – the Katete and Chitongo vaccine stabilates for the Zambian market, as well as kits for the lab diagnosis of ECF.

GALVmed has supported and invested significantly in CTTBD with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Government. This support is geared towards quality assured vaccine production and research leading to sustainable production of the ECF Muguga cocktail vaccine and potentially vaccines for other tick-borne diseases. GALVmed has also provided capacity building for the CTTBD staff to be well equipped to handle not only the production but also sale and delivery of the vaccine.

For more information on the launch, visit the CTTBD launch website here.

Notes to the editor:

1)    The Malawi-based  Centre for Ticks and Tick Borne Diseases (CTTBD) has manufactured and sold animal vaccines for over 30 years. The centre produces quality-assured vaccines, offers training in epidemiology Livestock Economics, Tick-Borne Disease Diagnostics, Geographic Information Systems, Risk Analysis and control techniques for tick-borne diseases and researches tick-borne diseases with research partners.

2)    GALVmed (the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines): Around 900 million people living in poverty rely on their livestock for daily needs.  When disease strikes, the loss of livestock or reduced production impacts food security and nutrition, the provision of education, basic healthcare and limits choice and opportunity.

3)    GALVmed is a not-for-profit Livestock health Product development & adoption Partnership organisation.  It is working with and through partners to make livestock vaccines, medicines and diagnostics accessible to the millions for whom livestock is a lifeline.



Beatrice Ouma
Communications Manager
+254 703700732