animal

Great push to improve animal health for sub-Saharan farmers

Veterinary experts from several international research institutions are driving an initiative worth US$7.12 million to provide appropriate technology to improve animal health and productivity in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Supporting Evidence Based Interventions Initiative (SEBI) is a global scheme combining the expertise from several research institutions and partners to provide practical veterinary solutions to livestock farmers in the region.

The aim is to develop technology to provide sustainable solutions to the challenges these farmers face in rearing livestock, like disease, death rates and reproductive losses, poor access to data and analytics, and poor diagnoses of disease. “SEBI is a pilot project but we anticipate that, if we are successful, it will expand to become the “go to” organization for the evaluation of novel veterinary technologies and livestock improvement interventions in Africa,” said project leader Professor Andy Peters.

According to the global science news service Eureka Alert, the scheme – funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – consists of three programmes to address the different challenges farmers face in sub-Saharan Africa. The initiative will be driven by an eight member team, based at the University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies.

The first programme will target dairy cattle farmers in Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania to identify solutions to decrease death rates and reproductive losses in animals. Different organisations will receive sub-grants to investigate the losses. One such grant was awarded to the University of Glasgow and research institutions who launched a surveillance platform in Tanzania in May.

The project examines the impact of a range of diseases which causes mortality in livestock through a combination of new analysis of existing samples and data and new data collecting on abortion-related mortality.

The second programme, named the Livestock Data for Decisions (LD4D), provides a platform where researchers are setting up an international network for livestock practitioners. Farmers will be empowered to improve the quality and relevance of their decision-making by gaining access to specific livestock data and analytics.

The third project will fund researchers to evaluate innovative veterinary intervention specific to developing countries. So far, the University of Guelph has received US$162 000 for funding their field trials of a hand-held device that enables farmers to diagnose specific diseases in cows from a small amount of blood or milk.

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