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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia report