Written by: Dr Hameed Nuru, Senior Director of Policy and External Affairs at GALVmed
Since 2008, GALVmed has taken on the daunting challenge of trying to facilitate the control of East Coast Fever (ECF) in Eastern Africa. I joined GALVmed in 2009 with a burning desire to see that challenge through to fruition and to show that things can be done, and done well, in the African livestock sector.
In 2009, and for three decades before that, ECF was not only an economic disease, but also a very political disease with actors all working independently and against each other. This resulted in a relatively simple disease not being controlled effectively and livestock keepers – poor and affluent alike – facing the wrath of an easily controllable disease. ECF actually has three methods of control (unlike most livestock diseases):
1. Prevent the tick with dip solutions (Acaricides)
2. Treat affected animals once sick with drugs
3. Vaccinate using the Muguga cocktail ECF ITM vaccine.
GALVmed opted to go for the vaccination approach because, as we all know, vaccination is far more effective and prevention is better than cure.
A lot of things had to be put in place to ensure that vaccination was to stand out as a preferred method of control. Over the years, GALVmed has:
– Engaged with partners and stakeholders at all levels from research to farmers
– Prepared a comprehensive dossier used for vaccination registration with regulatory authorities (the vaccine has been registered for the first time in Kenya, Malawi and Tanzania– conditional in Uganda)
– Facilitated the formation and support to the ECF regional task force
– Paved the way for distributors to be officially recognised and accredited by governments
– Assisted in the training of dozens of vaccinators in East Africa
– Significantly played a role in refurbishing, training and equipping the CTTBD from scratch to the point at which now the vaccine is being produced at a commercial level under quality assured production standards
It has been a very long and tumultuous road, but finally the circle has become full, with the launch of the newly refurbished, ready-to-go, state-of-the-art CTTBD Malawi.
I am so glad GALVmed and I had a role in this.