Invest in Women to Accelerate Progress

International Women’s Day, celebrated annually on March 8, is a day to reflect on the gender disparities that hinder women’s opportunities worldwide, while advocating for policies and strategies that pave the path to gender equality.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2024, as set by  UN Women, is Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress. With this campaign, UN Women shed light on an alarming reality: An additional $360 billion per year is needed to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment across key global goals, including to end poverty and hunger.

In the livestock context, where GALVmed operates, we must advocate for animal health and livestock strategies that are designed with attention to and addressing gender issues and inequities, to ensure women have equal access to resources and business opportunities as men. By investing in women, we not only advance global goals such as food security and poverty eradication, but also build a more inclusive and sustainable world.

How is GALVmed contributing to women’s empowerment?

Why is it important to invest in women in the livestock sector?

Women make up 43 percent of the global agricultural labour force, and therefore their work and contributions are of tremendous importance. Despite their potential to drive change within the agriculture and livestock sector towards more resilient, prosperous, and sustainable systems, rural women still face numerous challenges that leave them, and their communities, behind. We must allocate resources toward initiatives that amplify women’s contributions and opportunities, catalysing progress for women and men alike. This International Women’s Day, as well as every day of the year, let’s advocate for increased investment in women as a crucial step to help closing the gender gap and forging a future where everyone can thrive.

Banner Photo: Pascal Maitre & Chris de Bode/Panos Pictures

Written by Patricia Valdeón Noya as part of the International Women’s Day 2024 campaign on #InvestInWomen

GALVmed’s Achievements

Over one billion people around the world depend on livestock for their livelihoods, of which more than 900 million are in Africa and South Asia. However, preventable animal diseases pose a constant threat to productivity, food safety and security, income, opportunities, and individual and community prosperity. Consequently, protecting livestock is critical to improving human lives.

Focusing on sub–Saharan Africa and South Asia, GALVmed’s vision is transformational improvement in the well-being and economic progression of small-scale livestock producers. We do this through:

  • Improving availability: By researching, improving and developing much-needed animal health products and solutions.
  • Increasing accessibility:  By ensuring the needed products reach the markets and are accessible and affordable to small-scale producers.
  • Improving adoption: By easing barriers in the regulatory and policy environment, facilitating product registration.
  • Increasing understanding: By providing practical data and information from the small-scale livestock producer field to measure impact and facilitate data-driven decisions.

Working in collaboration with partners, GALVmed has implemented, over the years, various programmes across Africa and South Asia. GALVmed’s achievements from 2014 to 2022 are:

  • 1.2 billion livestock vaccines, therapeutics and other animal health products sold to small-scale customers in 15 countries across Africa and South Asia.
  • Approximately 5.7 million cumulative annual customers served.
  • 23.7 million livestock deaths averted saving the sector approximately of $386 million.
  • Approximately $119 million of cattle mortalities averted from East Coast Fever disease.
  • Approximately $52.5 million in poultry deaths averted from Newcastle disease.
  • 15 new animal health products developed since 2010.
  • A total of 9 products registered under the Mutual Recognition Procedure (MRP) to date.
  • Over 90 publications disseminated.

These achievements reflect not just progress but also strong commitment to improving the lives of those who depend on livestock for their livelihoods. GALVmed remains dedicated to collaborating with partners to ensure effective animal health products are widely available in sub–Saharan Africa and south Asia, contributing to our purpose of protecting livestock to improve human lives.

Why combination vaccines are better for small-scale livestock producers

Written by Stephen Wilson, Director, Research & Development (VITAL projects) and Kellen Asena, Senior Marketing Manager, GALVmed. Originally published by Farming First.

Livestock is a crucial source of income for small-scale livestock producers. Globally, it is estimated that around 78 per cent of the world’s poorest communities rely on agricultural work to support their livelihoods and households. However, livestock diseases represent $358.4 billion in lost production per year.

Access to veterinary care is a critical piece of the puzzle, with higher vaccination rates associated with higher productivity. However, expensive vaccines often do not reach those who rely on healthy animals the most for their livelihoods, income and food security: small-scale livestock producers.

Small-scale livestock producers often live in remote areas and face many constraints around access to veterinary care, including the lack of financial means to pay for the necessary medicines, and sometimes even lack of knowledge on some of the diseases that their livestock may suffer from. Often, suitable vaccines are distributed in disproportionate pack sizes or are simply unavailable. However, combination vaccines, also known as multi-valent vaccines can address these access challenges and more, offering the best value for resource-poor livestock keepers.

Alternatives for smallholder farmers

The prevalence of diseases such as Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP) and Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) in livestock is rife across the African continent, causing significant economic losses for farmers and harm to animal health and welfare. Yet, major gaps exist in the portfolio of products required by small-scale producers to effectively control pressing livestock diseases. Combination and concurrent vaccines, meaning those which target more than one disease in a single dose or administration, offer effective and affordable value to small-scale producers with an outstanding return on investment and a multitude of benefits.

For instance, combination vaccines are more cost-effective than single-use vaccinations, which tend to be more expensive. The Sheep Goat Pox/PPR combination vaccine, for example, is 40 per cent cheaper than the cost of the two vaccines delivered separately. 

Multi-valent vaccines also provide maximum coverage against multiple diseases, rather than simply one livestock disease. They require just a single dose to be administered and therefore are less burdensome on the farmer, the animal, and the veterinarians. There have also been improvements around pack sizes, with 10, 50 and 100 doses available.

Developing multi-valent vaccines

Together with partners, GALVmed is funding the development of several multi-valent vaccines against livestock diseases that are most endemic across Africa and South Asia and currently have the most negative impacts on food security for smallholder farmers. Contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia (CCPP), for example, can result in economic losses of over $507 million per year in endemic areas, while PPR is highly contagious and affects almost 70 countries across the African continent. SGP affects goats and sheep and can lead to economic losses amounting to $48 million per year across Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Other diseases that combination vaccines are targeting include Contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia (CCPP), Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD), Newcastle Disease (ND), and Infectious Bursal Disease (Gumboro) (IBD).

For example, the CCPP/PPR/SGP combination vaccine for small ruminant diseases in affected regions ensures maximum disease coverage using a single vaccine and through distribution networks operating effective cold chains. This combination vaccine is significantly cheaper than monovalent vaccines. The addition of the RVF dosage to the CBPP+LSD/Rift Valley Fever vaccine – known as a concurrent vaccine – is of particular importance to smallholder farmers as it offers enhanced protection against RVF outbreaks when administered at the same time.

Other combination vaccines include the bi-valent PPR/SGP vaccine – of which GALVmed, together with a commercial partner, has sold over 27 million doses to date – as well as multi-valent vaccines against ND and Infectious bronchitis.

Looking ahead

Encouraging governments across the Global South to open up the market for private sector development could ensure small-scale farmers are able to purchase vaccines more easily and efficiently, which is particularly important in the case of a disease outbreak when a rapid response time could make or break disease control efforts.

It is estimated that 800 million people in Africa rely on healthy livestock for their livelihoods. One of the fastest-growing agricultural subsectors in developing countries, livestock accounts for around 30 per cent of agricultural GDP. However, smallholder farmers in low-income, rural areas often lack access to vaccinations and veterinary care resulting from logistical and supply chain difficulties and costs. Combination vaccines could be the answer, offering a viable and cost-effective alternative for small-scale livestock farmers all around the world.

‘One Health’: Investing in Animal Health to get the world back on track

Written by Karelle De Luca. Originally published by Fair Planet.

There are just seven years to go until 2030. That means there are just seven years left to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and its 169 targets. Yet, the world was starkly reminded in July by top United Nations officials ahead of the SDG Summit that it is “tremendously off track” to reach these Goals.

In fact, a mere 15 per cent of the SDGs are on track, while many are in reverse. 

Against the backdrop of a myriad of complex, interconnected global challenges such as climate change and global economic insecurity, reaching all 169 targets by 2030 is looking increasingly less probable – unless action and investment are accelerated.

Indeed, world leaders’ recent political declaration to spur commitment to rescue the SDGs is a welcome step in the right direction, as they call for more investment in climate action, clean energy, education, health and much more. However, there is one important sector that also needs investment and is often overlooked in the role it can play to ensure the world gets back on track to our shared sustainability goals: the animal health sector. 

The ‘One Health’ approach

Investing in animal health – and in particular livestock – has a multitude of benefits for animals, people and the environment. That’s ‘One Health’ – the notion that human, animal, and plant health are interdependent.

Livestock is a crucial source of income for smallholder farmers, with about 78 per cent of the world’s poorest relying on agricultural work to support their livelihoods and households. However, each year, tens of millions of livestock die due to diseases.

Livestock diseases represent around USD 358 billion in lost production each year – production that could otherwise support global food security and more resilient livelihoods for small-scale farmers, particularly at a time when the African continent faces compounded challenges from climate change and supply chain shocks. 

However, investment in animal health and welfare can help. Thanks to a concerted vaccination effort over a decade ago, for

example, which saw the development of an inexpensive vaccine, costing from $3 to $16 per hundred doses, rinderpest in livestock was completely eradicated. Its eradication allows the continent to avoid a loss of $920 million a year, with household income in Ethiopia estimated to have risen by $40 million.

Improving animal health through investment boosts productivity and supports more resilient livelihoods, all of which are considered indicators of the Global Goals.

Beyond boosting livelihoods, enhancing animal health not only keeps livestock themselves healthy but also protects humans by reducing the risk of diseases spreading between the two. Up to 75 per cent of new or emerging infectious diseases in humans are zoonotic in origin – that is, transmitted from wild animals – the importance of better animal health cannot be understated, as livestock often act as the bridge between people and zoonoses from wild animals.

Africa alone has witnessed a 63 per cent increase in the number of zoonotic disease outbreaks in the last decade. 

Increased investment is needed to make the full suite of livestock health tools available to farmers, including vaccines and other measures, which in turn helps to lower the usage of antibiotics on farms. This also helps to minimise the risk of developing new resistant strains of bacteria, reducing the effectiveness of vital antimicrobial treatments in both human and veterinary medicine.

More effective vaccines and delivery mechanisms are particularly critical for small-scale farmers in the Global South. For instance, the development of multi-valent vaccines offer pragmatic and cost-effective disease control tools for smallholder farmers. To date, GALVmed-supported initiatives have sold an estimated over one billion livestock vaccines, therapeutics and other animal health products to smallholders in 15 countries across Africa and South Asia.

Healthier animals and improved livestock management practices can also help to reduce the sector’s environmental footprint – known as the third pillar of the One Health approach – bringing us one step closer to SDG 13 (Climate Action). Animals suffering from illness have a higher carbon footprint, while healthier animals are more productive and produce less greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

For example, a reduction of disease levels in livestock of roughly 10 percentage points is associated with an 800 million tonne decrease in GHG emissions. This adds up to nearly as much as Nigeria and South Africa’s total emissions, combined. 

While better livestock health can ensure a higher quality of life for animals, it is also an investment with far-reaching returns: from improved food security, economic growth, better human health and a healthier planet. 

As such, there is therefore a greater need to ensure that farmers are better equipped with the tools needed to improve animal health, particularly in those regions where they have proven inaccessible or expensive. Investing in livestock health through a One Health approach is a key solution to ensuring the world’s sustainability agenda gets back on track.

Image credit: @GALVmed/Alternatives.

It Pays to Invest in Animal Welfare

Written by Carolin Schumacher, CEO, GALVmed.

Animal welfare has the power to transform the lives of those who depend on livestock. Well-maintained animals are not only healthier and happier but also more profitable. By living longer and suffering from fewer diseases, they can save their owners considerable sums in medicines, veterinarian bills and the need to purchase or acquire new animals. Healthy livestock also produce more meat, milk or eggs over their lifetime, increasing the productivity and efficiency of livestock businesses. Whether it’s a cattle ranch in Kenya or a backyard chicken coop in India, it pays – quite literally – to invest in animal welfare.

Barriers to livestock welfare

Unfortunately, many of the 900 million people working in small-scale livestock production across the Global South lack access to the resources to improve the health and wellbeing of their animals. Limited private sector investment in lower- and middle-income countries, together with the challenges of reaching remote rural communities, mean that the high-quality animal health products commonplace in Europe and North America are often rare or non-existent elsewhere. Demand is instead met, if at all, by unregulated products and counterfeits of uncertain quality.

All of this means that producers in Africa and South Asia often have no choice but to rear health-impaired or disease-prone livestock. The owner of a backyard chicken coop in India knows that an outbreak of Newcastle disease could wipe out his or her entire flock, but may lack the funds to vaccinate their animals. A Kenyan cattle herder, meanwhile, may have limited access to vaccination services against Rift Valley fever, a destructive zoonotic disease endemic in Africa.

Locked into unprofitable business models, small-scale farmers are unable to expand their enterprises, pay for medical bills or, in some cases, even send their children to school. For the 600 million people whose diets are centred around livestock, the loss of these animals to disease can also jeopardise their food and nutrition security. Poor animal welfare holds back not only individuals, but families and entire communities.

Supporting healthy livestock

Improving animal health, especially through the creation and distribution of new and improved vaccines is critical. For example, an affordable, thermostable and easily administered vaccine against Newcastle disease was developed, specifically designed to benefit the poor and hard-to-reach livestock producers currently underserved by the private sector. Since 2010, 264 million doses of this vaccine have been sold to more than three million small-scale poultry owners in Africa and South Asia, transforming their lives and livelihoods.

The development of a safe and effective concurrent vaccine against Rift Valley fever and two other important ruminant diseases are also in its final stages. Once approved for sale, this vaccine will enable more frequent and regular administrations of Rift Valley fever vaccinations, reducing the risk of outbreaks and strengthening rural livelihoods.

To ensure game-changing products like these reach small-scale producers in Africa and South Asia, GALVmed is also supporting animal health companies to invest in the Global South. Whether by providing the private sector with much-needed market data, facilitating public-private partnerships or helping governments to develop robust policies, GALVmed works to create an enabling environment for animal health products and an essential bridge between product developers and livestock producers.

Prosperous and sustainable animal health markets

Livestock producers throughout Africa and South Asia, no matter how small-scale or remote they may be, must be able to access and benefit from the same range and quality of animal health products as their counterparts in the Global North.

Animal welfare is the foundation all these efforts must be built upon. By providing small-scale livestock producers with the resources and support they need to care for their animals, GALVmed and its partners are supporting the economic development and empowerment of individuals, families and communities across Africa and South Asia.

Originally published by Farming Firsts.

It’s Time to Celebrate the Climate Benefits of Livestock Health

This blog was written by GALVmed CEO, Carolin Schumacher.

In recent years, debates about the relationship between livestock and climate change have become dominated by concerns over the carbon and methane emissions of the cattle industry. These concerns are of course valid and need to be part of climate change discussions. But they do not tell the whole story.

In the Global South, a much more nuanced approach to livestock is needed. Here, livestock are the main source of food and income for 600 million people, and are an essential component of national and regional food systems. For millions of small-scale farmers, livestock are at the heart of their lives, livelihoods and cultures. Even though these farmers are under increasing pressures due to climate change, abandoning livestock is simply not an option for them or the countries in which they live.

Fortunately, evidence is growing to show that relatively simple interventions in livestock farming in the Global South can dramatically reduce the industry’s environmental impact. Providing cattle and sheep with a more diverse diet, for example, can reduce methane emissions. In addition, improved land management practices, such as fencing off degraded pasture, have been shown to conserve water, reduce overgrazing and strengthen the soil’s ability to absorb carbon.

Healthy livestock for a healthy planet

GALVmed’s mission to improve livestock health through vaccination also has positive climate and environmental impacts. This might seem surprising, but the science behind it is simple: healthier animals are more productive, while more productive animals emit fewer greenhouse gases relative to the amount of meat or milk they produce. 

Livestock vaccinations also reduce the number of animals that are killed, whether by disease or government-mandated culls, thereby further improving the sector’s productivity and carbon efficiency. By raising fewer healthier animals – rather than many unhealthy ones – farmers require fewer resources, reducing the need to deforest and clear unspoilt habitats for farmland.

GALVmed’s work not only boosts smallholder incomes and supports prosperous and sustainable markets, but also contributes to a greener future and  reduced mortality rates among vaccinated animals. 

The East Coast Fever vaccine, for example, has prevented approximately $119 million worth of cattle deaths, and the new all-in-one treatment for Lumpy Skin Disease, Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia and Rift Valley Fever – currently in the stages of registration – looks set to deliver similarly impressive results. In addition to product development, increasing private-sector investment in animal health allows smallholders to choose from an ever-growing stock of quality animal health products, enabling them to rear healthier, more productive livestock. 

I hope to see livestock health acknowledged and promoted as an important climate change mitigating element at the Africa Climate Summit. Africa, together with the entire Global South, stands to benefit enormously from greater private-sector investment in livestock vaccinations and other quality animal health products. 

These benefits will go far beyond improving the lives of animals and farmers. By reducing waste, lowering greenhouse gas emissions and relieving pressures on the natural environment, they stand to positively impact communities, countries and the entire planet – while continuing to support the lives and livelihoods of millions of the world’s poorest.

Photo: Maasai herder. Arusha, Tanzania, 2015. @GALVmed/Karel Prinsloo, 2015

Vaccine Equality is as Vital for Livestock as for People

Writen by Enrique Hernández Pando, GALVmed’s Executive Director, Commercial Development & Impact.

For 33-year-old mother-of-seven and poultry farmer Helena Kindole in Chanya village in Tanzania, one of the main barriers to growing her chicken business is a lack of access to health services. But not for herself or her family – for her animals.

With smallholder poultry farming often a lifeline for millions of low-income and rural families – accounting for 80% of poultry production in the region – access to medicines and vaccines is just as important for livestock as it is for people. And yet, logistical, infrastructural, and supply challenges are hindering access to veterinary services across the African continent and therefore, holding back smallholder productivity.

At the same time, a rapidly industrialising poultry sector in many developed countries, and an increase in grain prices globally, coupled with cheap imports from more developed markets and low access to animal health care is driving inequality between small- and large-scale producers, threatening to squeeze out smallholder poultry farmers.

Thankfully, this is starting to change. Animal health initiatives are helping local hatcheries to vaccinate chicks against common and damaging diseases before selling them to small-scale farmers, who rear the chicks until they are six months old, eventually selling them to neighbours, restaurants, and other businesses nearby.

For women like Helena, who make up nearly half of the global agricultural workforce in developing countries and in sub-Saharan Africa, the poultry sector offers a crucial source of income and healthy animals are essential for decent livelihoods.

Equipping farmers with the right tools can help to set them up for success to compete alongside more industrialised production systems.

Introducing vaccinations at local hatcheries can strengthen small-scale producers’ sustainability and commercial clout. Supporting these hatcheries with the necessary vaccination equipment and expertise means they can provide customers with large numbers of chicks that are vaccinated against common poultry diseases, such as Newcastle disease and Infectious bronchitis, the former of which contributes to 60% of poultry mortalities in many African countries. This reduces the risk of bird loss, contributing to improved income and more successful businesses overall.

PREVENT project in Tanzania/Iringa, 2021, Helena Kindole. Credit: Colin Dames/CEVA

But implementing vaccination measures alone is not enough, as a lack of technical support and knowledge on zoonoses and other infectious diseases that affect poultry can also hinder productivity. Training on animal health practices, market development opportunities, and advice on biosecurity, good management practices, and more are also crucial pieces of the puzzle. Providing this can help to level the playing field between large scale, industrial hatcheries and small-scale producers.

The PREVENT project (Promoting and Enabling Vaccination Efficiently, Now and Tomorrow) is one example of an initiative working to improve poultry production for Africa’s rapidly growing population. In just two years, this four-year initiative has administered 159 million vaccine doses and vaccinated 49 million hatchery chicks. It has also trained 100 field technicians who have conducted 2,600 farm visits and held over 1,400 farmer meetings across four countries in sub-Saharan Africa, to date.

A low-input but high-producing sector, raising chickens offers a reliable pathway out of poverty for many rural households. A small-scale producer can easily sell their chicks or chickens at the market as they are more affordable for the consumer than beef, for example, but also bring a myriad of other benefits. They add value to social structures, are high in protein, and, on top of this, can directly benefit women who in fact make up the majority of smallholder poultry farmers in the developing world.

Small-scale chicken farmer in Tanzania/Arusha, 2015. Credit: Karel Prinsloo/GALVmed

Against the backdrop of a global cost of living crisis, record-breaking temperatures, and ongoing conflicts, closing the inequality gap for smallholder farmers is critical to build a sustainable future for all. Supporting small-scale producers with training, animal health measures, and much more can help to level the playing field, one small-scale producer at a time, just like Helena.

Barriers to livestock health market: Distribution of products

A simple definition of distribution in business is the delivery or supply of goods and services to users or consumers. Although distribution may involve various functions e.g., sourcing of raw materials, inventory control, warehousing, logistics, marketing channels, etc., efficient delivery of products or services to customers is one of the important objectives of the service in a business.

Like in other sectors, businesses in animal health also have as their objective efficient delivery of their products, often for a profit to ensure sustainability. While achievable, it is a however a challenge or a barrier in markets comprised predominantly of small-scale livestock producers (SSPs).

In a survey conducted by GALVmed in July 2020, approximately half of the respondents identified 1) issues around levels of market information to drive investment and level of manufacturing capacity dedicated to the SSP sector and product registration, and 2) issues around time, effort, and expense required to register products in target countries as the biggest barriers in the animal health supply chain in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The survey was conducted amongst a range of professionals across the supply chain of livestock animal health products, into the key constraints and opportunities facing the animal health industry in SSA. Other issues identified included local retailing – issues around geographic dispersion, levels of customer service, product offering and product care; animal health services – issues around numbers and levels of training/incentivisation for effective support of the SSP sector and SSP customer demand; and issues around levels of animal health awareness, general husbandry and productivity. All these contribute to challenges in the overall level of demand for animal health products from within this sector.

Although only the major issues identified by respondents are highlighted above, what is clear from the survey is that barriers to efficient delivery of products to SSPs, span the entire animal health value chain i.e., from manufacturing to end-users.

The survey confirmed many of the barriers that continue to impede the efficient delivery of animal health products to SSPs, which GALVmed has and continues to address, through its projects and in partnership with other industry players. GALVmed strives to increase awareness, adoption, and availability of animal health products to SSPs by addressing challenges such as lack of warehousing and cold chain facilities, poor animal health services, SSP awareness and education, and last-mile delivery of products and services to SSPs in remote rural areas.  

GALVmed’s interventions are in line and supports some of the solutions suggested by respondents, which included harmonisation and simplification of registration procedure, improving infrastructure for cold chain, and awareness and training of SSPs.

While barriers exist, GALVmed has demonstrated through the years that, given the livestock population numbers and their importance in improving livelihoods, the SSP market segment presents a huge potential for the animal health sector. GALVmed is therefore working with partners on a proposed platform known as the Integrated Intelligent Logistic and Supply Chain Platform, to address strategies and interventions that will potentially transform distribution of animal health products in SSA. A prioritised component of the platform will be diseases awareness, in line with the solutions suggested by survey respondents.

The Integrated Intelligent Logistics and Supply Chain Platform is one of three proposed platforms to deliver a comprehensive, financially sustainable solution that will unlock new opportunities for growth in the animal health industry.

Written by Thembinkosi Ramuthivheli, Senior Manager of Commercial Development & Impact, Africa.

Barriers in the livestock health market: Service provision

Animal health services and products are still out of reach for millions of Small-Scale Producers (SSPs) in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and South Asia (SA). One of the reasons for this is that even though SSPs account for a large number of animal keepers in SSA and SA – 35% of cattle head and 43% of sheep and goat head of world respectively, they are scattered, concentrated in rural areas and operate their production on low input, low output system. This makes animal health service provision challenging. SSPs also have less to spend on animal health further pushing away veterinary service from their reach. A veterinary service provider needs to travel long distances to visit just a few farms and a smaller number of animals, which makes their services costly. Consequently, SSPs tend not to treat their animals or in the instances that they do, they get advice from less qualified people and use low-quality medicines inappropriately. This often leads to bigger issues such as antimicrobial resistance (AMR).  It also means a large percentage of animal heads are dying before maturity or performing below capacity after surviving, in absence of effective and reliable animal health service provision.

Filling the gap

More veterinarians are needed to serve and supervise Veterinary paraprofessionals (VPP) work. But this is easier said than done and has been a problem for decades. The ratio of veterinarians to livestock in African countries is 20 times lower than the developed part of the world like Denmark, France, USA. In India, only half of the required number of vets are available currently. In SSA and SA, a small number of veterinarians along with VPPs are expected to carry out a range of animal health services – from vaccination to diagnosis and treatment. This is a big challenge for public, private, and non-profit sectors involved in overall livestock and poultry development to help a large number of SSPs.

One solution that has been tested is filling this gap with trained community-based animal health workers, who perform basic services like vaccination and de-worming. GALVmed for example has worked with trained community animal health workers in supervision of veterinarians in the delivery of millions of doses of Newcastle Disease vaccines to backyard poultry producers. These projects not only served SSPs at their doorstep but also created sustainable employment in rural areas. However, it is not without challenges; including lack of proper visibility of their operations by few veterinarians, making their work difficult to track to ensure quality.

What next then?

The demand for veterinary services in these regions is only going to increase, but the number of vets perhaps not so.  Which is why we need to look at other innovative measures that can help us reach SSPs with services and products. Digital interventions like tele-health platforms have the potential to address some of these requirements, considering the fast growth in the use of the Internet and mobile phones.

Tele-health platforms can quickly connect animal health service providers with SSPs and cut down the unwanted expense in travel and time. Veterinarians can supervise the work of VPPs remotely; diseases and outbreaks can be reported quickly; quality consultation and prescription can stop the use of inferior and fake medicine, and can also help in reducing AMR. Consequently, more animals will survive and produce more to contribute to overall food and nutritional security.

GALVmed is working with partners and veterinary authorities to develop a Telehealth and e-commerce platform with the aim of making products and veterinarian-supervised services available and accessible to SSPs. The Telehealth and e-commerce platform is one of three proposed platforms to deliver a comprehensive, financially sustainable solution that will unlock new opportunities for growth in the animal health industry.

Written by Peetambar Kushwaha, Senior Manager of Commercial Development & Impact, South Asia.

Barriers to livestock health market: Intelligence

A thriving, sustainable animal health inputs (AHI) industry is what we need in low-and-middle income countries (LMICs) such as those in Africa. This is where value chain players operate profitably to get the products and services to the farmer who is the ultimate beneficiary. In these regions, a large proportion of agriculture production is contributed by small-scale farmers. According to Africa Development Bank Group, 75% of production and employment in East Africa is contributed by small-holder farming. Unfortunately, while progress has been made in other sectors such as trade and services, agriculture still lags behind.

The barriers to trade in AHI have led to LMICs markets being insufficiently attractive to sustain the case for investment in the development of targeted products and markets by multinational companies, which typically have research and development capacity. In entities that exist to gain their shareholders a return on equity, there is competition for capital which tends to be concentrated in the most profitable areas. Some of the barriers to trade in LMICs include incomplete market information which hinders the sizing of the opportunity, packaging not small enough to suit the predominant small-scale producer segment, presence of poor-quality products due to reasons such as counterfeiting, incomplete or inefficient distribution networks that don’t optimally reach producers, cold chain issues due to energy and infrastructure inadequacy, demand aggregation to sustain large scale manufacture, or development of veterinary service resources among others.

GALVmed through the implementation of its new 2030 commercial development strategy, is looking to work with partners to address some of these barriers through bespoke platforms, one of which being the Market Intelligence Platform (MIP).

The AHI’s current size and future potential in sub-Saharan Africa must be better understood. With a significant lack of data, the industry tends to rely on best estimates and use incomplete and unreliable information. This is augmented with substantial levels of guesswork and approximations. The situation is highly undesirable and harmful for two reasons:

One, the industry’s best estimates can be wildly inaccurate and tend to be significant underestimates. For example, a comprehensive, bottom-up assessment of the Kenyan market by AgNexus Africa has recently valued the market at $110M p.a. Previous industry best estimates had typically placed the market in the region of $45 – $50 M p.a.

Secondly, industry investments reflect the degree of confidence in the underlying markets. The need for more reliable data for the African market greatly amplifies the uncertainty around this market, and industry investments in the region consequently suffer.

The outcome of this information shortfall contributes to a significantly reduced animal health industry investment in Africa. Many manufacturers either avoid the region entirely or limit and drip-feed their investments. The consequences are felt not only in the manufacturer’s marketing and distribution activities but also in R&D, where it is extremely difficult to justify development projects for African-specific products. For African small-scale livestock producers (SSP), this has important and far-reaching consequences. Product availability, product quality, and product prices are all negatively impacted. This translates to poorer animal health outcomes, lower SSP livestock productivity, and poorer SSP livelihoods.

For these reasons, the proposed Market Intelligence Platform which aims at both sizing the current and estimating the future markets through techniques such as advanced analytics will enhance animal health market transparency, improve decision-making, reduce business risk, indirectly improve market efficiency, and promote access to animal health markets. This will contribute to a more developed industry in the coming years.

Written by Tom Osebe, Senior Manager of Commercial Development & Impact, Africa.