The value of livestock vaccines

Millions of people in the developing countries depend on livestock as a source of livelihood. But this vital resource is constantly under threat from diseases that are often preventable through affordable and effective vaccines.

Much has been written about the value of vaccination in human health. The case of Smallpox is a good example. How it went from a disease that killed approximately 300 million people between 1900 and 1950, to a disease that was completely eradicated by 1977. Only an incredibly powerful intervention could bring about such profound change. And vaccines are indeed powerful; nothing else in the extensive modern medical armoury comes close to matching their inherent effectiveness.

But what is the scope for vaccines in animals? And, in particular, the livestock upon which 900 million people in the developing world depend upon for their livelihoods. Here the story can be equally profound. Because not only are vaccines incredibly effective, but they are also very affordable.

Consider Newcastle Disease (ND) - a major global poultry disease, outbreaks of which in Africa and Asia frequently kill 80% of chickens. A dose of ND vaccine administered by a trained vaccinator in a rural African / Asian location typically costs just 1p (2 US cents). That will protect a bird that produces eggs, producing more chickens and, in this way, makes a very substantial contribution to rural household nutrition and income levels. This is the magic of vaccines.

But for this magic to work, we need an effective vaccine in the first place and a viable market. This is where GALVmed comes in. Using donor funding, the UK based charity harnesses top research and development expertise to develop vaccines for the major livestock diseases of the developing world. It then works with manufacturers and distributors to establish viable vaccine markets. This makes for a simple and sustainable intervention where the greatest assets of the rural poor, their livestock, are affordably protected by one of the greatest marvels of science – the vaccine.

GALVmed is a livestock health product development & adoption partnership organisation. For more information visit www.galvmed.org

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