After fifteen years of improving livestock health in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, we at GALVmed know the huge impact that new animal health products can have for small-scale livestock farmers, their households, communities and countries. Innovations such as GALVmed’s highly effective Newcastle disease vaccines have unlocked life-changing economic benefits for farmers, enabling them to expand their businesses, improve household nutrition, cover medical bills and send their children to school.
However, we also know that product development is only the first step in improving livestock health in the world’s lower and middle-income countries. By itself, research and development cannot put new animal health technologies in the hands of farmers. For that to happen, there needs to be an enabling policy and regulatory environment that encourages animal health companies to register, distribute and sell their products in new countries.
Poor policy prevents investment
Unfortunately, navigating national policies and regulations around animal livestock is a complex and time-consuming ordeal for many organisations. A recent GALVmed survey of major animal health companies confirmed what we already knew anecdotally: businesses trying to invest in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia face significant policy challenges. These include inefficient systems for registering veterinary products, monitoring products in the market, prohibitive taxes or duties on imports and unclear policies on the roles of public and private service providers.
Coupled with the lack of market data and associated risks of investing in lower and middle-income countries, these hurdles are enough to dissuade many companies from selling their products in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. As a result, the private sector misses out on the largely untapped market of small-scale livestock farmers, governments miss out on effective business partners, and most importantly, farmers miss out on incredibly valuable livestock vaccines, therapeutics and other animal health products.
GALVmed is determined to change this.
Creating prosperous, sustainable markets
This is why GALVmed works across the entire livestock value chain – from laboratory to field – to ensure that small-scale livestock farmers can access products best suited to their needs. We collaborate with global organisations, such as the World Organisation for Animal Health, that are charged with developing veterinary standards for use in countries. We support national regulators to establish clear, coherent policies. And we leverage our convening power to promote productive collaboration between the public and private sectors, encouraging better use of resources to create prosperous and sustainable markets.
Since 2011, for example, GALVmed has supported the East African Community to implement the Mutual Recognition Procedure (MRP) project. This registration system has not only harmonised the technical requirements for registration of vaccines and pharmaceuticals, but has simplified the process by allowing applicants to apply for licences for animal health products in multiple countries simultaneously. By saving time and resources for both the public and private sectors, MRP supports the sustainable supply of quality registered veterinary medicines in East Africa. Since its creation, there has been an increase not only in the number of applications for products in the region, but in the number of companies – African and global – submitting applications.
More recently, GALVmed was instrumental in establishing the Veterinary Inputs Suppliers Association of Kenya (VISAK). Established in 2018 and formally recognised the following year, VISAK is a rapidly growing association of companies involved in the manufacture, import and distribution of animal health products and equipment in Kenya. In just a few years VISAK has come to be seen as a trusted intermediary between regulators and the private sector and a catalyst for local manufacturers.
GALVmed’s efforts to create an enabling environment for sustainable adoption of animal health inputs by small-scale livestock farmers are just as important as our contributions to product development. Only when research and development is paired with clear and effective policies and regulatory systems can innovative animal health products reach farmers. By enabling farmers across sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia to choose from a growing range of quality registered products, GALVmed is working with its partners to improve livestock health, boost business, support governments and strengthen farmer livelihoods.
Written by Lois Muraguri, Senior Director of Enabling Environment & Partner Engagement.