Establishing small chicken enterprises in Nepal through vaccination

In the small village of Madnapur in Surketh district, Nepal, lives Rampyari Thapa. She has been rearing backyard poultry for six years.  “Almost all my chickens would die, some would even suffer from paralysis,” she says recalling her struggles to keep her chickens alive. Her family owns only a small piece of land and so farming isn’t a viable livelihood option for them. However, things took a turn for the better when two years ago she met a Community Agriculture Veterinary Entrepreneur (CAVE), who informed her that poultry mortality could be avoided. The CAVE informed her that her birds were most likely dying due to Newcastle Disease or ‘Ranikhet’ disease as it is known locally, which was preventable through vaccination.

The CAVE introduced Rampyari to vaccination and highlighted to her the symptoms to look out for and other preventive measures. She was also taught how to vaccinate her birds against the disease. Today, Thapa has 18 healthy birds, each of which will fetch her NPR 1000 (US $ 10) in the market. She regularly vaccinates not just her own but her neighbours’ poultry as well and there have been no outbreaks of ND in her neighbourhood since. She has plans to grow her modest flock size to more than 300 chickens, an ambition that was unimaginable six years back.

Newcastle disease (ND) or Ranikhet is a major cause of high poultry mortality, the effects of which are felt most acutely by the backyard poultry (BYP) keepers in rural Nepal who are from disadvantaged communities. Although vaccines are available, these were used almost exclusively by commercial farmers as BYP farmers were unaware of both the disease and preventive measures. This, in addition to inadequate knowledge of good husbandry practices also meant that backyard poultry only remained a supplementary means of income.

The sector however, presents a great opportunity for income generation. According to a 2016 report by Heifer Project International Nepal, backyard poultry contributes significantly to Nepal’s poultry produce accounting for 16% of the total egg production and 13.5% of chicken meat production.

Recognising this, the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed) in partnership with Heifer Project International Nepal initiated a project for sustained control of Newcastle Disease (ND) in Backyard Poultry through vaccination. Another objective was to increase income and nutrition of BYP farmers in the project area.

The two and a half year project which ran from September 2013 to March 2016, covered 50 village development committees in Banke, Bardiya and Surkhet districts. These districts used to experience regular bi-annual outbreaks of Newcastle Disease in April-May and August– September, killing up to 90 % of poultry.

The project was designed to mitigate problems of backyard poultry by creating awareness about improved BYP farming, and the benefits of regular deworming and ND vaccination using quality vaccines.

The farmers however, needed to be sensitised to voluntarily get their birds vaccinated, to pay for the services and to view such expenditures as an investment towards a profitable agri-business.

Activities facilitating behavioural change at the grassroots were thus a major focus area.  The project team created awareness on basic health care, vaccination, bio-security and backyard poultry management in project areas using tools such as street theatre, radio, posters, mobile vans with loud speakers, wall paintings and hoardings.

Meetings were also held with representatives of self-help groups, village animal health workers, community facilitators and other local stake holders to come up with an affordable fee for each dose of vaccine.

The project also leveraged on existing network of trained CAVEs who sold and administered these vaccines.  The CAVEs’ capacities were further bolstered by training them in BYP economics, health and husbandry and transporting vaccines safely using cool boxes.

Seven different ND vaccination and deworming campaigns were then conducted in project areas with help from local Community Animal Health Workers (CAHW), local partner NGOs and staff of the District Livestock Service Office (DLSO) of respective districts.

Dil Kumari Thapa, a backyard poultry farmer from Kunathari, Surkhet, was struggling to tackle ND outbreaks when she came across a street play teaching techniques to protect poultry from ND. She got in touch with the local Village Animal Health Worker (VAHW) and received training in vaccination and improved health & husbandry practices.

“Earlier I could only sell between eight to ten chickens annually as other birds would die. Things began improving when I built a new shed with materials available locally and began giving supplementary feeds along with regular deworming and vaccination,” Dil Kumari explains.

By the end of the project, the number of farmers vaccinating their chicken against ND had increased from 19.8 % to a whopping 73 % according to the project report.

These farmers have experienced increased egg production which has led to significant increase in flock size, with the average flock size per household increasing from 4 to 9. The project also reported an increase in annual income from poultry by an average of NPR 18303 or US $ 177 per household resulting from increased poultry and egg sales after intervention.

Recognising the benefits of vaccination, farmers are increasingly willing to pay for vaccines in subsequent campaigns.

The increased sales of vaccines has resulted into an increase in profits for stakeholders across the value chain – farmers, retailers, veterinary health workers and CAVEs. Annual expenditure on medicines and vaccines for instance went up by 38%, expenditure on vet fees increased by 173%, there has also been a 100% increase in poultry house maintenance expenditure and 39% increase in expenditure on poultry feed.

“I am able to earn much more from my poultry in a shorter period and my business requires less capital but has a good market.” concludes Dil Kumari, testifying that this has enabled her to save up and construct a water tank to irrigate her vegetable garden.

The cumulative impact on the mindset of the larger community is also noteworthy as neighboring villages and other organisations including government offices like district livestock service offices (DLSO) are beginning to replicate these interventions.

Agrovets help sustain Newcastle Disease vaccination value chain in Nepal

In one corner of Banke District in Nepal, Vishnu Rejme runs his agrovet stall. He is one of those community agroveterinary entrepreneurs – commonly known as agrovets – who are sustaining the system of poultry vaccination in remote parts of Nepal.

They form the vital ‘last mile’ connection to poultry farmers in the vaccine supply chain. Vishnu not only supplies and vaccinates chickens, but also helps to create awareness of the need for vaccination against the deadly Newcastle Disease.

The work being done by Vishnu and other agrovets was initiated by GALVmed and Heifer International.

Script by Prasenjit De and Shekhar Kanojia.
Videography by Tapas Ranjan Barik.
Camera attendant Mananjay Kumar.
Video editing by Rajesh Kumar.
Narrated by Gaurav Kapuria.
Directed by Shekhar Kanojia.


New SGP/PPR combined vaccine shows promise in Africa

Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) is a highly contagious viral respiratory disease of goats and sheep causing up to 80 per cent mortality in flocks. The disease is present in West Africa, part of Central Africa (Gabon, Central African Republic), East Africa (north of the Equator), the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent including Nepal and Myanmar.

The total yearly cost of PPR is estimated to be US $874 million.

PPR and another viral disease, Sheep and Goat Pox (SGP), are often vaccinated separately and only during outbreaks. The vaccines are often controlled by governments and supplies can be limited.

Sheep pox and goat pox result from infection by sheeppox virus or goatpox virus. The disease is found in most of Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

SGP may be mild in indigenous breeds living in endemic areas, but can be fatal for newly introduced animals. Economic losses result from fall in milk production and decreased quality of hides and wool. Sheep and goat pox can limit trade and prevent the development of intensive livestock production.

The total yearly cost of the disease is estimated to be US $48 million.

Market approval is currently being sought for a new low-cost combined vaccine against PPR and SGP. While the monovalent PPR vaccine is a public good, it is expected that a multivalent PPR/SGP vaccine would not be. While emergency intervention by governments and international agencies such as FAO have been used to distribute the monovalent PPR vaccine, more sustainable systems need to be developed to make the interventions more reliable, cost-effective, consistent and timely. Bivalent vaccines are also more cost effective compared to monovalent vaccines. The vaccine cost is 40 per cent cheaper than the cost of two vaccines and protects against two diseases.

(Filmed and edited by James Karuga for Wren Media.)

Groundbreaking workshops call for integrated ‘one health’ approach to control major cause of epilepsy in developing world

GALVmed held workshops in South Asia and Africa for stakeholders working in the field of taeniasis and cysticercosis recently to discuss integrated human and animal health approaches to controlling these parasitic zoonotic diseases.

Taeniasis and cysticercosis represent a serious public health issue in the developing world with negative impact on livestock farming households and national economies, causing around five million human infections and 50,000 human deaths each year.

The meetings held in New Delhi , India and Entebbe, Uganda, brought together policy makers and key influencers from the human and animal health sectors, regional and international human and animal health organisations, research, academia, commercial partners, civic society, manufacturers and their local technical representatives plus local pig farmers and traders.

Through presentations from national, regional and international experts, participants were given information and updates on current porcine cysticercosis (PC) control programmes in their territories. In Entebbe, Dr Angie Colston, GALVmed’s Assistant Director for Research and Development, presented results on GALVmed’s activities on PC including findings from GALVmed-commissioned cysticercosis landscaping studies in Africa.

In New Delhi, Dr M I Barbaruah from Vet Helpline India and Dr N P S Karki, an independent veterinary consultant from Nepal, presented the landscaping reports and results for India and Nepal respectively.

Keynote presentations were given by Professor Marshall Lightowlers, Professor of Veterinary Science at The University of Melbourne and Dr Meritxell Donadeu, International Development Professional and Visiting Research Fellow at The University of Melbourne. Professor Lightowlers and his team have developed the first-ever licensed vaccine for PC.

Also in attendance were Mr N S N Bhargav and Dr Baptiste Dungu of Indian Immunologicals Limited, India and MCI Sante Animale, Morocco respectively.

Engaging human and animal health organisations in East and Southern Africa

The Entebbe meeting, organised in collaboration with the Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute, was officially opened by Joy Kabatsi, Uganda’s Minister of State for Animal Industry and hosted over 50 participants from Madagascar, Tanzania, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia.

Workshop delegates and speakers outside the Laico Lake Victoria Hotel in Entebbe

Dr Mwemezi Lutakyawa Kabululu from Tanzania, Dr Chrisostom Ayebazibwe from Uganda and Dr Evans Kabemba Mwape from Zambia, researchers from the three target countries featured in GALVmed’s African cysticercosis landscape and technical reports, gave national perspectives on the effects of the disease in humans and animals.

In addition, participants heard of the experiences of the Pan African Health Organisation (PAHO) on their ‘One Health’ approach to tackling PC and representatives from Madagascar shared their best practices and success stories with an integrated approach to controlling PC.

Commercial partners gave their perspective on the vaccine manufacturing, registration and distribution of vaccines.

Encouraging collaboration among human and animal health organisations in South Asia

In New Delhi, opening remarks were given by Dr A C Dhariwal, Director of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), and Dr G Gongal, World Health Organization, India, to 45 participants from Nepal and the Indian states of Bihar, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Assam, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and New Delhi.

Speakers and delegates at the Suryaa New Delhi

Dr Dhariwal said the economic importance and evidence related to neglected tropical diseases like taeniasis/cysticercosis should be highlighted to encourage collaborations to occur. Dr G Gongal added that taeniasis/cysticercosis affects poor and excluded people more and since we now have PC tools, action must begin on ground.

Neurosurgeons Dr V Rajashekhar from Christian Medical College, Vellore, and Dr Manjari Tripathi, from All India Institute of Medical Sciences, N Delhi, called for programmes to control taeniasis/cysticercosis to be launched as soon as possible.

The need for improved disease surveillance systems to assist policy makers in making informed decisions was also highlighted by Dr Rahman, the head of International Livestock Research Institute for India.

Dr Mamta Dhawan implored all to collaborate so that a beginning could be made through small pilots in different states of India that could be replicated and scaled up once a successful model is identified.

A key outcome of the workshops was a call to target policy makers up to the highest level to create engagement and collaboration using a narrative from a human health perspective to make a compelling case for an integrated ‘One Health’ approach to control taeniasis and cysticercosis.

Raising public awareness of the disease, its prevalence, transmission and control was also emphasised. It is this awareness that will raise demand for vaccines  and dewormers and encourage manufacturers to maintain vaccine production with the overall objective of improving animal health and ultimately human health.

Commenting on the success of the meetings, Lois Muraguri, GALVmed’s Director of Policy and External Affairs, said: “The information and knowledge gained from these presentations and discussions has encouraged taeniasis and cysticercosis stakeholders to uphold a One Health approach as a viable option for the control of porcine cysticercosis and neurocysticercosis.

“I feel the delegates have gone away empowered to explore opportunities for overcoming the challenges by embracing a One Health approach and collaborating in finding integrated practical solutions for taeniasis and cysticercosis control in Africa and South Asia.”

GALVmed welcomes all questions and suggestions regarding taeniasis/cysticercosis and a One Health approach. Please contact:

Further reading

It’s time to eradicate the main cause of preventable epilepsy in the developing world through collaboration

India report

Integrated One Health porcine cysticercosis landscape analysis

Nepal report

Landscape analysis for taeniasis/cysticercosis control

South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia report

Landscape analysis: Prevalence and control of Porcine Cysticercosis and Human Taeniasis/Neurocysticercosis


Controlling Porcine Cysticercosis in Udaipur, Nepal

New tools to tackle Porcine Cysticercosis in rural Uganda