India’s smallholder farmers’ renewed hopes for veterinary medicines

In the state of Utter Pradesh where GALVmed is working with Hester Biosciences to set up sustainable distribution channels for most needed veterinary medicines and vaccines, we meet some of the smallholder farmers and service providers and talk to them about their livestock health challenges, their hopes and aspirations once they will have better access to medicines and vaccines for their livestock.

Empowering women to deliver animal health services in India

In parts of India, rural women are vital in delivering animal health products to smallholder farmers who need them. These women are locally referred to as Pashu Sakhis loosely translated as friends of the animals. The Pashu Sakhis are female animal health workers and they have always played an important role in connecting their communities with animal health products. They work alongside other animal health providers. To be able to do their work properly, the Pashu Sakhis need continuous training, mentoring and support.

In May, GALVmed and its partners, Veterinary Social Business division of Hester Biosciences Limited and Bihar Rural Livelihood Promotional Society (BRLPS) held a joint training program for the Pashu Sakhis  on the importance of vaccination, deworming and basic goat husbandry practices.  Twenty Pashu Sakhis from Jhajha and Sikandra blocks of Jamui District in Bihar, India participated in the training.  The women were trained on how to vaccinate effectively and how to work systemically so there is no interruption of vaccine supply through distribution network. The sessions were led by Dr Kundan and Mr Brajbhushan from Hester. The trainers clarified the prevailing misconception about vaccination among goat keepers. Participants were also informed about Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) and Goat Pox vaccine; cold chain requirement; and veterinary products available in their respective areas.

Apart from the trainings, the women will also benefit from sixty cooler boxes that were made available by the GALVmed-Hester project to BRLPS to be distributed to Pashu Skahis working in that area.

These training and supply chain development activities are part of tripartite association among GALVmed-Hester Bioscience Limited-Bihar Rural Livelihoods Promotion Society (BRLPS) to accelerate vaccination of livestock against PPR (in goats) and Newcastle Disease (poultry) in the State of Bihar, India. Hester has developed a supply chain through twenty six retailers in twenty six blocks of eleven districts in Bihar under this agreement. Refrigerators at these retail points have also been labelled with informative posters explaining Do’s and Dont’s in cold chain management of vaccines.

More reading: Can goats empower women? By Bill Gates

Written by Dr Rahul Srivastava (Veterinary Social Business, Hester) and Dr Peetambar Kushwaha (GALVmed) 

GALVmed and Hester Biosciences conduct veterinary awareness week

To commemorate the 2019 World Veterinary Day whose theme was the Value of Vaccination, the Veterinary Social Business (VSB) division of Hester Biosciences Limited, a GALVmed partner in South Asia, recently conducted a weeklong livestock vaccination campaign. The seven-day campaign was an innovative awareness activity on the value of livestock vaccination. The campaign targeted all stakeholders in the value chain including, veterinarians, researchers, academicians, community animal health service providers, distributors, entrepreneurs, and smallholder farmers. Activities were conducted in areas of Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand where GALVmed and Hester previously implemented projects and in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar where projects are ongoing

Vaccines are typically one of the most economical inputs in animal husbandry with maximum return on investment. Beyond monetary benefits, there are many socio-economic aspects of livestock vaccination especially in the smallholder livestock sector in resource-constrained areas.

The initiative started on April 27, 2019. VSB Team members circulated digital messages over mobile platform WhatsApp and personally visited 880 veterinarians to extend gratitude for support in vaccinations in the smallholder sector. Across all states, the team also participated in veterinary professionals’ meetings and shared their experiences in vaccinating poultry and goats in rural and tribal areas which have shown encouraging results in monetary and non- monetary value creation.

Early data reflect the following key benefits:

  • Reduced mortality means more birds and goats ie. more productivity
  • Improved household nutrition and consumption of meat and eggs
  • Improved household financial status due increased sales of livestock produce.
  • Significant change in mindset of small livestock keepers towards entrepreneurial ventures, investment and growth.

To sensitise all stakeholders, eleven key messages were developed in both Hindi and English languages. These were circulated over WhatsApp, followed by visits from the VSB team to discuss the messages in detail with the various stakeholders. Messages touched on the important role of veterinary service providers, increasing coverage of vaccination, breaking the myth of free vaccinations in backyard poultry, the role of women in livestock vaccination, changes in distributions of veterinary vaccines, entrepreneurial opportunities in livestock vaccination and effective partnerships.

Hester Veterinary Social Business is committed to serve smallholder farmers. Currently, vaccinations in village poultry and PPR & Goat Pox vaccinations in small ruminants are being undertaken.

This blog was written by Dr Rahul Srivastava (Veterinary Social Business, Hester) and Dr Peetambar Kushwaha (GALVmed)

Walking The Last Mile: Learn about our new project with Boehringer Ingelheim

In July 2018, GALVmed’s partner  Boehringer Ingelheim launched a new project known as The Last Mile Initiative. The project is designed to address weak distribution channels and help smallholder farmers in Africa increase their knowledge on disease prevention and treatment. While the Last Mile Initiative was initially launched in Kenya, there are plans to expand to key markets throughout Africa including Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria and Tanzania, amongst others.

Video courtesy of Boehringer Ingelheim.

Bill Gates asks: Can goats empower women?

In a new article posted on his Gates Notes blog, Bill Gates says rearing goats can greatly boost women’s empowerment, especially in rural areas where money earned from sale of goats stays in the women’s hands and gives them more control of their finances. This means that women not only improve their status within the homes, but they also have greater ability to make decisions and have greater power over their own lives. Read more here:

Hester Biosciences launches innovative awareness campaign for smallholder farmers

GALVmed partner Hester Biosciences Limited has launched a campaign to sensitise farmers about animal health and management. The campaign is one of the initiatives to kick start a new programme which aims to provide over two million smallholder farmers with animal health products in the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and in Nepal over a period of five years. The campaign, dubbed Pashu Chaupal (a Hindi word meaning meeting place in the village to discuss matters livestock) was launched in collaboration with India based media company Gaon Connection Private Limited (GCPL) targeting rural communities on varied subjects, including animal health and management.

During the campaign period, the Hester and Gaon Connection teams are conducting at least ten village meetings per month in different districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh. Experts from livestock and agriculture sectors join these events enthusiastically, to give a holistic solution to issues affecting smallholder livestock farmers as they usually do crop farming. To date twelve Pashu Chaupal events have been convened reaching over 1000 farmers in districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh (Azamgarh, Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Kaushambi, Chandauli, Barabanki, Sitapur, Allahabad and Faizabad). During such meetings the experts highlight the importance of regular deworming and vaccinations of livestock and poultry against diseases such as PPR and Goat pox in goats, PPR in sheep and Newcastle disease in poultry along with good nutrition and management practices. Audio visual awareness tools such as short videos are used to aid in learning. Dedicated sessions on addressing questions from farmers are also held where experts give advice in a variety of subjects covering livestock and crop.

This campaign marks a first of such a mass awareness campaign for smallholder farmers by a private company in Eastern Uttar Pradesh. GALVmed is supporting Hester Biosciences Limited to develop a market to make available animal health products to smallholder livestock farmers in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Nepal.

By Peetambar Kushwaha

New field study focuses on non-invasive chicken vaccines

A field study to explore the practical viability of non-invasive, simultaneous administration of commercial Fowl Pox and Newcastle Disease vaccines could potentially help to control both diseases for smallholder farmers. The study is currently being implemented in Hanang district in Tanzania, by GALVmed and its local partner Open University of Tanzania.

The objective of the study is to demonstrate that the concurrent administration of commercial Fowl Pox (FP) and Newcastle Disease (ND) vaccines when given by non-invasive routes is safe and elicits immunity, indicated by local (for FP) or serological (for ND) immune reactions, in rural, free-range scavenging, indigenous chicken in extensive smallholder settings.

The results obtained under field conditions will be compared with those obtained from a laboratory study that GALVmed was involved in, in 2017. The field work will evaluate if the benefits seen under laboratory conditions also accrue under field use conditions. If the field studies are successful, the aim is to make the technology available for commercial use in future.

Most resource poor people, living in marginalised hard to reach areas, possess village chickens. Chicken farming in these areas is characterised by low productivity coupled with high morbidity and mortalities. Preventable diseases such as Fowl Pox and Newcastle Disease are considered to be the primary disease constraints for smallholder poultry production, causing mortality, poor growth rate and drop in egg production.

In general, commercial Fowl Pox and Newcastle Disease vaccines are available in local markets. But a regulatory barrier exists with the administration of Fowl Pox vaccine in that, for most African countries, community animal health workers or paraprofessionals (the primary means by which smallholders access vaccines) are not permitted to administer the Fowl Pox vaccine is classed as an injectable that must be administered by a veterinarian or under the responsibility and direction of a veterinarian. The ND vaccine can however be administered by eye drop by trained paraprofessionals.

A practical solution to this problem could be for the paraprofessionals to apply the FP vaccine by feather-follicle route. This would permit the paraprofessional to legally administer the Fowl Pox vaccine in the course of their Newcastle vaccination activities. This is beneficial in terms of reducing costs and reducing the number of separate interventions.

The ongoing study is being conducted in 245 households located in seven villages.

By Kristin Stuke

Concluded GALVmed funded projects with Hester Biosciences in India show signs of sustainability

Some projects funded under the just concluded phase of Protecting Livestock II are already showing promising signs of sustainability. The projects that were implemented with Hester Biosciences in India were aimed at distributing a new thermo-tolerant Newcastle disease vaccine to smallholder farmers. The vaccine manufactured by Hester was being distributed in smaller 100 dose packs.

A key component of the Hester project was to develop a reliable supply chain of the poultry vaccines in rural and tribal areas of Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.

During implementation, various partnerships were made to spread awareness and reach the underserved smallholder farmers, especially tribal areas. Among such partnerships were with Birsa Yuva Seva Samiti (BYSS) in Jharkhand and Pathe Pathshala (PP) in Odisha. Although the project between GALVmed and Hester came to an end in June 2017, awareness and vaccination activities are still continuing and growing in project areas illustrating the potential for sustainable change in project area.

During the recent World Veterinary Day which was marked on April 28, 2018, Hester and BYSS convened an animal health awareness open day under the leadership of Dr Bablu Sundi where more than 200 smallholder livestock keepers participated. Dr Sundi, is a dedicated vet who founded BYSS to create animal husbandry awareness and provide extend animal health services in tribal areas of Chaibasa area with unique veterinary-mobile- ambulatory van. His efforts are captured in this story we did previously. BYSS is continuing to provide animal health services to smallholder farmers in Jharkhand.

Some of the guests who attended vaccine awareness creation activities during the 2018 Word Veterinary Day organised by BYSS in Jharkhand, India -Image by Rahul Srivastava/Hester

And in Odisha, Dr Balaram Sahu of Pathe Pathshala organised an awareness camp for tribal farmers in Munduli, Cuttack district, aslo on World Veterinary Day. More than 40 smallholder livestock farmers participated proactively.

Some of the participants at the World Veterinary Day event organised by Pathe Pathshala, Odisha, India- -Image by Rahul Srivastava/Hester

These awareness activities and other vaccination efforts are the result of the seed planted by the GALVmed-Hester partnership and are now continuing without further donor funding. The Hester project is an example of successful market development initiatives in South Asia. A new dedicated division ‘Veterinary Social Business’ has been established at Hester Biosciences Limited to spearhead a large scale project in some other Indian states and Nepal under the new GALVmed funding of Veterinary Innovations Transforming Animal health and Livelihoods (VITAL) that aims to provide smallholders with access to a suite of multiple veterinary products.

This post was written by Dr Rahul Srivastava who is the Assistant Vice President of Veterinary Social Business, Hester Biosciences Limited.

ECF stakeholders meet in Uganda to discuss report on field safety and efficacy study

GALVmed recently convened a meeting of key East Coast fever disease stakeholders in Uganda to discuss the final report of the ECF field safety and efficacy study. The meeting took place at the Lake Victoria Hotel in Entebbe Uganda on Friday 23rd February 2018. In attendance representing GALVmed were Dr Jeremy Salt, Chief Scientific Officer and Dr. Samuel Adediran, Senior Commercial Manager.

In his opening remarks Dr. Kenneth Mugabi, a senior veterinarian from the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry & Fisheries reiterated the importance of livestock in the Ugandan economy and the impact of livestock disease, especially East Coast fever on the livelihood of livestock keepers. He noted that the Infection and Treatment Method (ITM) has been recognised as one of the most effective control tools against ECF and thanked GALVmed for the financial support to improve ECF vaccination uptake in Uganda. In his presentation, Dr. Jeremy Salt traced the objectives of GALVmed to control neglected diseases including ECF, by working with global and regional partners in product development, manufacturing, marketing and policy. Dr Salt observed that, with funding support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and UK aid from the UK Government, GALVmed has supported product development and distribution of the ITM Muguga cocktail.

Dr. Josephine Nanyanzi, Principal Regulatory Officer at the Uganda National Drug Authority explained that following the submission of the registration dossiers and completion of the efficacy studies, the only step remaining for registration of the vaccine in Uganda was the inspection of the production facility in Lilongwe, Malawi. Based on the results of the study presented by Dr F. Musisi, the monitoring team concluded that the results demonstrated the efficacy and safety of the vaccine under field conditions and recommended that the product can be used widely in Uganda. Other participants including market distributors implored the NDA to register the vaccine and pave the way for more commercial use in Uganda.

-By Samuel Adediran