September 14, 2023


Global organisations join forces with pharmaceutical firm to combat African Animal Trypanosomiasis



A consortium of prominent global organisations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the UK Government Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, Boehringer Ingelheim, and the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed), has formed a strategic partnership with a leading pharmaceutical company to tackle African Animal Trypanosomiasis (AAT), a disease severely impacting millions of cattle across Africa, The Citizen reported.


In a collaborative statement, these organisations announced their commitment to conducting comprehensive research and establishing partnerships with academic institutions and international projects to promote and develop innovative solutions to combat AAT.


"The development of new veterinary products is a time-intensive process, but this partnership is determined to introduce a solution for AAT before the year 2030," the statement said.


AAT poses a significant threat to more than 50 million cattle in regions known for tsetse fly infestations. Additionally, up to 90 million cattle may be at risk, including those outside the tsetse belt due to cattle movements, transhumance, and mechanical transmission of parasites.


AAT is responsible for an estimated three million cattle deaths annually, directly impacting meat and milk production. The combined costs of treatment and tsetse control measures amount to over US$1 billion each year. The disease also results in substantial losses in agricultural gross domestic product, estimated at approximately US$4.5 billion annually across all affected regions in Africa.


AAT, also referred to as Nagana, represents a significant socio-economic burden for livestock farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa, including Tanzania.


AAT affects a wide range of vertebrate animals, including cattle, water buffalo, sheep, goats, horses, pigs, dogs, and various other species. It is caused by protozoan parasites such as Trypanosoma congolense, Trypanosoma vivax, and, to a lesser extent, Trypanosoma brucei brucei. The disease is primarily transmitted by tsetse flies.


Infected parasites enter the bloodstream of the host animal, leading to symptoms such as fever, weakness, lethargy, and anemia. These manifestations result in weight loss, reduced fertility, decreased milk production, and, in severe cases, death.


Notably, significant advancements have been made in the control of African human Trypanosomiasis, a disease targeted for elimination by the World Health Organization (WHO), thanks to robust collaborations and concerted efforts.


-      The Citizen

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