Members of the Maasai community from northern Tanzania have met HRH The Princess Royal after arriving in Scotland on Sunday. The Maasai are on a week-long visit to raise awareness about preventable livestock diseases that threaten the livelihoods of their community.
The visit was arranged by Scotland-based charity, GALVmed (Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines), a non-profit organisation working with private and public partners to develop a range of vaccines, treatments and diagnostic products for livestock keepers throughout Africa and South Asia. The meeting took place as part of Her Royal Highness’ visit on Tuesday to the Moredun Foundation, of which The Princess is a Patron.
In a few months, GALVmed will launch a new ground-breaking vaccine to prevent East Coast Fever. The disease, prevalent in East, Central and Southern Africa, kills 1.1 million cattle every year and constitutes a major threat to communities such as the Maasai who depend upon cattle and other livestock for their financial and food security.
“Without cows, the very existence of the Maasai is threatened,” said Ngayok Laizer, one of the Maasai visitors. “We would not be able to educate our children or get medical care, and would be reliant on food aid. We are grateful for the support of GALVmed in helping us maintain our traditional way of life.”
Speaking ahead of the week-long visit, Steve Sloan, CEO of GALVmed said, “Livestock diseases constitute a major barrier to agricultural and economic development in Africa and South Asia. GALVmed serves as a catalyst between public and private organisations to encourage sustainable free enterprise in the livestock health markets of poor countries. Our work focuses on bringing together scientific and operational expertise with funding opportunities to help underserved communities such as the Maasai.”
GALVmed headquarters, which coordinates the charity’s partnerships and research activities with leading Scotland-based and international researchers, is located in Pentland Science Park, ten miles south of Edinburgh. The charity has received funding over the next three years for the development and delivery of vaccines to more than 13 diseases plaguing livestock in developing countries.