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Bill Gates Donates $51 Million to Combat Disease

24 February 2012

GLOBAL - Edinburgh-based charity the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed) is to receive funding of over £31.2million ($51.5million) from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Government's Department for International Development (DFID).

GALVmed's Interim CEO, Professor Peter Wells commented: "We are delighted that this funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and DFID will enable the GALVmed alliance to work with partners to scale-up access to livestock vaccines, medicines and diagnostics for resource-poor people.

"Across the developing world, livestock are an essential means of funding the most basic needs including food, education and healthcare. We are working to protect livestock and save human lives and livelihoods by making livestock vaccines, diagnostics and medicines accessible and affordable to the millions in developing countries for whom livestock is a lifeline. This announcement will take us much further in achieving our goal."

The funding announcement was made by Mr Bill Gates at the 35th session of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)'s Governing Council in Rome, Italy.

"If you care about the poorest, you care about agriculture," said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "Investments in agriculture are the best weapons against hunger and poverty, and they have made life better for billions of people. The international agriculture community needs to be more innovative, coordinated and focused to really be effective in helping poor farmers grow more. If we can do that, we can dramatically reduce suffering, and build self-sufficiency."

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell MP said, "For millions of people across the developing world, the wellbeing of their livestock is quite simply a matter of life and death. To a poor farmer, their livestock may be the equivalent of the local supermarket, weekly pay cheque, emergency savings account and medical insurance all rolled in to one. For many, the death of a single animal can be devastating, while to lose an entire herd is to lose everything.

Livestock provides a critical path for millions in the developing world to escape absolute poverty. For nearly 700 million of the world's poorest people survival and prosperity are almost entirely dependent on the health of their livestock.

Smallholder farmers in the developing world lose at least 25 per cent of their livestock every year to disease that could have been controlled through vaccines and medicines. Access to affordable and genuine animal health medicines has been limited for more than 40 years and poor livestock keepers have limited access to vaccines, diagnostics and medicines because they are often expensive and difficult to access and administer.

This funding allowed GALVmed to undertake its first major project, Protecting Livestock Saving Human Life 1 (PLSHL1). This project focused on the following main diseases:

  • East Coast fever: An African ruminant disease, with estimated costs of US$186 million a year.
  • Rift Valley Fever: A disease confirmed in 19 countries across Africa, with Kenya's last outbreak costing an estimated £32million and 350 human deaths.
  • Newcastle Disease: A world-wide, contagious viral disease affecting chickens. There are an estimated 1.38 billion chickens in Africa, and approx 70 per cent are in villages, many at risk from Newcastle disease.
  • Porcine Cysticercosis: A disease spread from pigs to humans which causes up to 50,000 deaths a year across Africa, India and China

The planned work focuses on facilitating access to much needed animal health products through:

  • Removing barriers in vaccine registration through consolidating facilitation of the vaccine regulatory framework.
  • Providing availability and access to quality animal health medicines, vaccines, and diagnostic tools relating to specific livestock diseases.
  • Increasing capability and capacity to deliver and access animal health tools and services to rural areas through gaining a better understanding of the markets to help incorporate poor livestock keepers into the mainstream veterinary product supply chain, and through developing the producing the vaccines, medicines and diagnostics needed.
  • Inspiring sustained public and private financial commitments to create a better environment for investment for product development and delivery.

ThePigSite News Desk



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