Vaccinating chickens leads to better nutrition for communities in Jharkhand, India

For 33 year old Amrita Kunjur, vaccinating her poultry against Newcastle Disease (ND) has brought an added value to her family. Amrita who lives in the rural hinterland of Ranchi, the capital city of Jharkhand state in India, has always owned chickens. But due to the prevalence of Ranikhet Disease (Newcastle Disease), the flock never grew to a large enough size to earn a bit of extra income and for regular consumption.

“Earlier, we would hardly eat chicken regularly. We did not earn enough money to buy chickens,” says Amrita.

Amrita and her family exemplified the general condition of tribal families in Jharkhand. Many of their chickens were being wiped out mainly by ND and hardly had enough chickens to eat, let alone sell. For most of India’s tribal families, agriculture is the primary source of livelihood. But due to long dry spells, farming has not been as productive as desired and they often resort to buying food that they once produced. With inadequate income, most families find it extremely challenging to have proper nutritional intake, especially eggs and chicken. Buying chicken for consumption is not prioritised in comparison to other basic household needs. For families to afford to eat chicken, they must be able to keep free range chicken, free from diseases.

Vaccine leads to better nutrition

With the introduction of the Lasota ND vaccine in 2015, backyard poultry has flourished. Amrita’s family, who only managed to keep up to ten chickens before, have now increased their flock size to nearly fifty. As a result, the family can now afford to consume at least one chicken every week, giving them the much needed protein. Plus, considering the market value of one chicken at INR 300-400 (US$ 4.5 – 6) within the locality, the family is saving about INR 1500 (US$ 23), or about 60 percent of their present monthly food budget.

Another case is that of 32-year old Mariam Karkatta, who owns a flock of about 70 chickens, ten times more than she owned before she started vaccinating her chickens.

Being an early adopter, she was one of the first in her community to embrace the vaccination programme. After experiencing the benefits of vaccination first-hand, she actively promoted the vaccine in her village, which resulted in substantial increase in chicken population.

Consumption increases with growth in chicken flock

While Mariam’s family could only consume a few chickens the whole year previously, consumption has gone up to about two chickens every month.

For Mariam, the main concern has been the nutrition of her children. Apart from serving the children a regular diet of chicken, she also serves them chicken soup when they are ill. Additionally, eggs are added into their diet. “My son used to catch the flu easily but now he is healthy,” she remarks with a smile, pointing to her school-going son.

With the growth of her flock, Mariam keeps a healthy food budget. As she doesn’t have to buy chickens, she spends about INR 4000-5000 (US $ 60 – 75) on food every month.

With more and more families vaccinating their poultry against ND, it is evident that nutritional intake is slowly improving as families are now able to add chicken and eggs to their regular diets. This is a major boost to the health of community members, particularly children. It is a proof that, even supporting one parameter such as vaccination, goes a long way in improving the lives of poor rural families.

Written by Prasenjit De of Alternatives for GALVmed

Chicken vaccine broadening economic avenues in Jharkhand, India

Silanti Linda lives in a village, about 15 kilometres away from Ranchi, the capital city of Jharkhand state in India. Silanti and her family are part of the tribal community that has traditionally depended on farms, forests and livestock. They are however increasingly having to seek additional sources of income due to reduced productivity of the land and deforestation.

Many of the community members have taken up blue-collared jobs in nearby urban areas. Migration to big cities out of the state is also a common phenomenon.

Silanti’s husband works as a driver for a privately owned organisation in Ranchi. He earns about INR 4,000 (US $ 60) per month. Because of the high cost of living, this income is not sufficient hence the family’s need for an additional source of income.

Vaccine brings new opportunities

The introduction of the LaSota vaccine against Newcastle Disease (ND) has brought them a new economic opportunity. They can now keep and sell chickens because they are no longer being wiped out by the deadly ND (known locally as Ranikhet). “As we can get some income from chicken sales now, we can even save some money,” says Silanti Linda, a 32-year-old woman highlighting the economic benefit of vaccination against ND.

Keeping backyard poultry has been a traditional practice but the widely prevalent ND has regularly wiped out most of the chicken population during outbreak episodes. Silanti had three to four chickens at any given time. Now, one year after starting vaccination, she owns 40 to 45 chickens at a time. In the last 3 months, she has earned about INR 4,000 (US $ 60) from chicken sales. Although still a modest amount by any standard, it is an increase of about 33% to the average monthly household income. The additional income not only helps in meeting the increasing food expenses, but also helps in giving better education to their only child and takes care of medical expenses of the family. Even after all these expenses, she still manages to save some money.

For Silanti and other people who live below the poverty line, the economic benefits they have achieved due to the introduction of the Newcastle Disease vaccine is significant. She, like many others, has been able to revive a dormant occupation – chicken rearing.

Regular poultry businesses benefit too

However, the benefits are not limited to the poor alone. People in the regular poultry business have also been able to better manage and grow their existing businesses with the introduction of the vaccine. Before the vaccine was popularised, their trade survived marginally. They managed to negate the effects of ND by constantly buying new chicks from the market. But this meant additional “working capital” was constantly needed to offset low profit margins. Also, the farmers needed to spend more time on poultry management, leaving them with less time for other occupations.

The LaSota vaccine has helped these poultry keepers by decreasing their expenses on new chicks. The profit margins of the local poultry businesses have gone up. Umesh Lohra, a 54-year-old man, and his wife have been managing poultry for the last few years. They managed to grow an average flock size of 400 to 500, despite high mortality rates. They earned about INR 5,000 (US $ 75) per month from chicken sales. But now, after initiating vaccination, they earn INR 7,500 (US $ 112), or 50% more from chicken sales. As there is reduced chicken mortality after ND vaccination, they do not need to stock up on new chicks regularly. This saves substantial capital costs.

“We simply do not need to spend the amount of time we used to earlier. Hence, the management of poultry has become flexible,” says Umesh. The total family income now is almost INR 14,000 (US $ 209). Poultry sales is about half of total family income.

In 16 districts of Jharkhand state, where the vaccine was introduced, the effect is palpable in the economic lives of the people.

Written by Prasenjit De of Alternatives for GALVmed

Regulatory harmonisation: Improving access to safe, effective and quality veterinary medicines across East Africa

The costs of animal disease

In Africa, millions of people depend on livestock for their livelihoods. However, the high prevalence of livestock diseases, such as East Coast Fever and Newcastle disease, to name just a few, are a major constraint to increasing smallholder incomes and enhancing agricultural development, food security and resilience. Accessibility and distribution of high quality veterinary medicines is therefore the best tool to combat animal diseases and help curb economic losses.

Cross-country registration of veterinary medicines

Registering veterinary medicines in Africa through the currently established processes is cumbersome and time consuming, requiring considerable technical information from applicants. Harmonisation of the registration system for veterinary medicines across nations simplifies the process, saves time and resources and helps to ensure drug quality, safety and efficacy.

In 2012, a GALVmed initiative ‘Harmonisation of Registration Requirements for Veterinary Immunologicals and Development of a Mutual Recognition Procedure (MRP) in East Africa’ was launched to provide support in this critical area. The enterprise was undertaken to assist the East African Community (EAC) in harmonising registration requirements in the established regulatory authorities and strengthening their veterinary vaccine regulatory systems. GALVmed’s work commenced with a workshop in Nairobi, involving regulators from eight East African countries – Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Only three countries already possessed a recognised registration system (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda). Participants were asked what would be needed to achieve a harmonised system for registering veterinary vaccines and it was concluded that the development of a set of harmonised technical documents was required.

As a result of the workshop, a technical working group (TWG) was formed consisting of participants from the national regulatory authorities of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Rwanda, Burundi and the EAC Secretariat are also members of the TWG whose role was to work on and develop the following registration documents: a harmonised application form to send to EAC Regulatory Authorities when applying for marketing authorisations; harmonised product information templates to be included in the summary of product characteristics, product labels and package leaflets; a guide to the structure of a registration dossier for a veterinary immunological product; a guide on the data required in the registration dossier to demonstrate product quality, safety and efficacy.

Progress of the Mutual Recognition Procedure (MRP)

The rationale for the MRP is to obtain marketing authorisations for a particular product without incurring long delays. An assessor in one country is responsible for evaluating the registration dossier before writing the assessment report. The same report is then shared with all other regulatory authorities where the applicant seeks marketing authorisations. This eliminates the need for separate applications and time consuming assessments by each country.

Gilly Gowan, GALVmed’s Regulatory Affairs Consultant said, “MRP saves time, effort and is predictable. Assessors and inspectors from different Regulatory Authorities will build trust in each others’ work enabling valuable veterinary vaccines to be registered quickly and simultaneously in as many EAC countries as the applicant wishes. Once the harmonised Marketing Authorisations are granted there are other advantages for applicants. No longer will they need to wait for the last approval from a Regulatory Authority before making a change to the production, testing or label claims of their product. The approval process will happen simultaneously in all the countries that were involved in the MRP.”

Subsequent to the initiative’s conception in 2011, encouraging progress has been achieved in the EAC, where a harmonised veterinary medicines registration system is currently being set up. The following accomplishments have been made:

  1. Harmonisation of technical documents – Development and refinement of the technical documents across Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda have stopped using their previously established guidelines to be part of the regional MRP process. Uganda has already registered products using the new guidelines. Rwanda and Burundi also see the significance of MRP and are currently establishing their own regulatory bodies to use the harmonisation documents for immunological veterinary product registration.
  2. Acknowledgement of the process – The value of MRP has been identified in other regions. Requests have been received from the economic communities of the South African Development Community (SADC) and Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) to assist them in introducing a similar system
  3. Adoption of MRP – In 2013, heads of regulatory authorities in the EAC region met with GALVmed and the African Union Pan African Veterinary Vaccine Centre to recommend the harmonisation process and MRP concept to the EAC Council of Ministers. The process was adopted by the EAC Sectoral Council in September 2014 and by the EAC Council of Ministers in December 2014.
  4. Training in good manufacturing practices (GMP) – GMP inspectors from four countries have received training in appropriate inspection of veterinary vaccine manufacturing. The training is on-going and a joint, mock inspection is planned for October 2016 to provide inspectors with confidence in each other’s inspection methods.
  5. Registration dossier assessment – Twenty assessors from six countries attended training in assessing registration dossiers for veterinary vaccines. By the end of the course they all declared that they are able to train other regulators in the process. Such joint assessment will provide assessors with confidence and trust so that they can accept assessments made by regulators from other EAC countries during MRPs.

Who benefits from MRP?

Dr Zelalem Gebretsadik of the Ethiopian regulatory authorities said:

“Harmonisation and MRP of vaccine regulation benefits local farmers, product applicants, vaccine producers and regulators. Farmers will enjoy increased availability of safe, effective, quality vaccines at affordable prices in the market for livestock diseases. National medicine regulatory authorities will be better equipped to register medicines in a cost-effective and timely manner by improving regulatory processes and making better use of scarce technical skills. Vaccine producing companies and their local representatives/agents will benefit from simplified and standardised regulatory approval processes. It will become possible to submit dossiers for much-needed medicines simultaneously in multiple countries, and evaluation turnaround times will improve.”


Written by Sophie Reeve, WRENmedia

Produced by WRENmedia for GALVmed

Photos by GALVmed/Sephi Bergerson