Time for African livestock keepers to take control of their own destiny

By: Abdallah Said Twahir, Director of Market Development and Access at GALVmed

Photos (left to right): Cattle isolation unit; CTTBD grounds; CTTBD Tick House. Photos credit: A S Twahir

Photos (left to right): Cattle isolation unit; CTTBD grounds; CTTBD Tick House. Photos credit: A S Twahir

21st November 2014 – The Centre for Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases, or just CTTBD as it is better known, is in the outskirts of Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi. It produces a unique vaccine against a killer livestock disease responsible for large numbers of deaths in cattle. East Cost Fever (ECF or Ndigana as it is known in parts of Kenya and Tanzania) is responsible for over 1 million cattle deaths a year with considerable consequences on livestock keepers’ livelihoods.

However, a solution is available. A vaccine referred to as the ECF-ITM involves infecting an animal with disease-causing organisms and then treating the animal with a long-acting antibiotic to produce lifelong immunity.

It takes over 18 months to produce the vaccine at a considerable cost. The vaccine is expensive BUT not as expensive as the cost and effects of loss of livelihoods to the livestock keeper.

For many people in Africa, livestock is a measure of wealth and a significant source of food through milk and meat. It is time for the livestock keeper in Africa to take control of their destinies and their own livelihoods. Often, the livestock keeper leaves the responsibility of vaccinations to the government. Yet when the pastoralist is out and about in search of pasture, he constructs a boma, a ring of thorny bushes to protect livestock against predators (lions, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas). They don’t leave that to the government. It is this change in mind set that is required to move forward to a brighter future. A future of many possibilities. A future of wealth and health. CTTBD is the partner to that future.

And before you ask, it is NOT time to duplicate this kind of facility all over Africa. It is time to consolidate our resources for efficiency and effectiveness. It is time to support the CTTBD for the sake of all livestock keepers in Africa.

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Follow CTTBD’s launch on Friday 5th December. Use the Twitter hashtag #cttbdmalawi to find out more before, during and after the event!

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