Edinburgh-based charity the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed) is to receive funding of over £31.2million ($51.5million) from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID).

GALVmed’s Interim CEO, Professor Peter Wells commented:

“We are delighted that this funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and DFID will enable the GALVmed alliance to work with partners to scale-up access to livestock vaccines, medicines and diagnostics for resource-poor people. Across the developing world, livestock are an essential means of funding the most basic needs including food, education and healthcare. We are working to protect livestock and save human lives and livelihoods by making livestock vaccines, diagnostics and medicines accessible and affordable to the millions in developing countries for whom livestock is a lifeline. This announcement today will take us much further in achieving our goal.”

The funding announcement was made today by Mr Bill Gates at the 35th session of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)’s Governing Council in Rome, Italy.

“If you care about the poorest, you care about agriculture,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Investments in agriculture are the best weapons against hunger and poverty, and they have made life better for billions of people. The international agriculture community needs to be more innovative, coordinated and focused to really be effective in helping poor farmers grow more. If we can do that, we can dramatically reduce suffering, and build self-sufficiency.”

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell MP said, “For millions of people across the developing world, the wellbeing of their livestock is quite simply a matter of life and death. To a poor farmer, their livestock may be the equivalent of the local supermarket, weekly pay cheque, emergency savings account and medical insurance all rolled in to one. For many, the death of a single animal can be devastating, while to lose an entire herd is to lose everything.

“GALVmed has pioneered work to identify vaccines, medicine and early diagnostic solutions to tackle some of the most devastating livestock diseases that affect poor farmers in the developing world – but that work is of no use if these solutions just sit on the shelf. This new funding from the British taxpayer and from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will ensure that these innovative solutions are produced at scale and that they can get to those who need them most, at an affordable price.”

Livestock provides a critical path for millions in the developing world to escape absolute poverty. For nearly 700 million of the world’s poorest people survival and prosperity are almost entirely dependent on the health of their livestock.  Smallholder farmers in the developing world lose at least 25 percent of their livestock every year to disease that could have been controlled through vaccines and medicines. Access to affordable and genuine animal health medicines has been limited for more than 40 years and poor livestock keepers have limited access to vaccines, diagnostics and medicines because they are often expensive and difficult to access and administer.

Today’s announcement follows on from an award of $28million of funding from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and DFID announced in September 2008. This funding allowed GALVmed to undertake its first major project, Protecting Livestock Saving Human Life 1 (PLSHL1). This project focused on the following main diseases

  • East Coast fever: An African ruminant disease, with estimated costs of US$186 million a year.
  • Rift Valley Fever: A disease confirmed in 19 countries across Africa, with Kenya’s last outbreak costing an estimated £32million and 350 human deaths.
  • Newcastle Disease: A world-wide, contagious viral disease affecting chickens.  There are an estimated 1.38 billion chickens in Africa, and approx 70% are in villages, many at risk from Newcastle disease.
  • Porcine Cysticercosis: A disease spread from pigs to humans which causes up to 50,000 deaths a year across Africa, India and China

The progress of GALVmed’s and its partners to date includes:

  • Commencing production of the East Coast fever vaccine at African Union-CTTBD (Centre for Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases), Malawi. At full capacity CTTBD will produce 2 million doses of ECF vaccine every 18 months for use throughout East and Central Africa, in addition to other tick-borne disease vaccines.
  • Developing inter-continental linkages by bringing together Indian Immunologicals Ltd and University of Melbourne to work towards the first commercially produced vaccine against porcine cysticercosis.
  • Bringing together the Agricultural Research Council-Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute (RC-OVI) and Certest to produce prototype pen-side rapid diagnostic tests for Rift Valley fever (RVF) and working with Onderstepoort Biological Products to demonstrate proof-of-concept for a combination RVF-lumpy skin disease vaccine which will also be effective for sheep and goat pox.
  • Signing-up two companies, Deltamune of South Africa and MCI Santé Animale of Morocco, to manufacture the I2 strain of Newcastle disease vaccine.
  • Securing £8 million (US$ 12.8 million) funding from DFID to begin work on animal African trypanosomosis – a disease estimated to cost Africa US$ 5 billion a year. GALVmed is reviewing control options and scanning the horizon to identify and partner with promising on-going research that could lead to the creation of better drugs diagnostics and perhaps even a vaccine.
  • Establishing over 250 partnerships and legal agreements, and building a pool of 60 experts working through 11 advisory committees from 18 countries, augmenting the already diverse GALVmed team.
  • Investing US $9 million and inspirational staff development time in 8 national vaccine labs in Africa, increasing their capacity to produce quality-assured livestock vaccines. The European Commission-funded VACNADA (AU-IBAR, AU-PANVAC and CIRAD Vaccines for the Control of Neglected Animal Diseases in Africa) programme was a partnership with AU-IBAR, AU-PANVAC and CIRAD.

Following today’s announcement, GALVmed will be able to start phase two of this project; Protecting Livestock, Saving Human Life 2 (PLSHL2). 

The funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Department for International Development will allow GALVmed and its partners to bring potential products from proof of concept stage, through development, to commercial proposition and without limitation by intellectual property matters or exclusive commercial rights.

The planned work focuses on facilitating access to much needed animal health products through:

  • Removing barriers in vaccine registration through consolidating facilitation of the vaccine regulatory framework.
  • Providing availability and access to quality animal health medicines, vaccines, and diagnostic tools relating to specific livestock diseases*
  • Increasing capability and capacity to deliver and access animal health tools and services to rural areas through gaining a better understanding of the markets to help incorporate poor livestock keepers into the mainstream veterinary product supply chain, and through developing the producing the vaccines, medicines and diagnostics needed.
  • Inspiring sustained public and private financial commitments to create a better environment for investment for product development and delivery.

This will help GALVmed to enhance significantly the livelihoods and food security of some of the world’s poorest people.

GALVmed will be providing availability and access to quality animal health medicines, vaccines, and diagnostic tools relating to the following livestock diseases:

  • Newcastle Disease (ND) – Initially Pilot Projects in Africa and Asia will impact upon thousands of households.
  • Rift Valley Fever (RVF) with Sheep and Goat Pox (SGP) and Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) – The combination of the different RVF control tools to be developed in the project will decrease the cost and impact of outbreaks.
  • Contagious Bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP) – GALVmed will deliver an Integrated Control Strategy which, if applied to the whole continent, would have an effect of a 25% decrease in impact in a disease where the estimated annual cost is at least US$80 million.
  • East Coast Fever (ECF) The new funding period will see the realization of sustainable regional production and supply with significant numbers of cattle vaccinated, contributing to the steady reduction of ECF impact (estimated at US$186 million a year).
  • Contagious Caprine pleuropneumonia (CCPP) – GALVmed will finalize the development of a robust production process for the CCPP vaccine, ensuring the vaccine can be produced in larger quantities and is more widely available.  Currently the vaccine is only produced in 2 countries in Africa, and the amounts of vaccine produced are not enough to cover the national (and regional) needs. GALVmed will promote increased availability and access to the vaccine in non-vaccine producing countries.
  • Porcine Cysticercosis: A disease spread from pigs to humans which causes up to 50,000 deaths a year across Africa, India and China.  Work on this disease is funded by DFID.