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[ABUJA, NIGERIA] Animal experts have prioritised areas for animal research in Africa and the Middle East as part of a global strategy to reduce the burden of animal diseases.

The experts at a conference in Nigeria last month (12-15 September) prioritised opportunities for African countries to collaborate with their counterparts in the Middle East on research and funding opportunities.

The priorities include access to samples or strains of organisms, specialised facilities and expertise, and identification of international funding opportunities.

“There are diseases such as infectious bronchitis, chronic respiratory disease…which are having devastating impacts on our livestock.”

Halid Kirunda, The National Agricultural Research Organisation

The conference, which included participants from countries such as Israel, Uganda and Tanzania, was organised by the Global Strategic Alliances for Coordination of Research on Major Infectious Diseases of Animals and Zoonoses – International Research Consortium (STAR-IDAZ IRC), a global initiative to coordinate research in animal health, particularly infectious animal diseases including zoonoses – diseases transmitted from animals to humans.

The regional meeting, among other things, discussed and agreed on common research priorities for both Africa and the Middle East regions, and explored the opportunities for sharing resources, including access to samples or strains of organisms, specialised facilities and expertise.

The meeting, according to the organisers, was to facilitate the coordination of research efforts and identify innovative solutions to challenges such as diseases facing the livestock sector in Africa and the Middle East.

Alex Morrow, Chairperson of the STAR-IDAZ IRC, said that the meeting was aimed at facilitating a cordial working relationship between experts in Africa and the Middle East to quickly develop new and improved strategies for controlling diseases that impact animal and human health.

Michel Bellaiche, director of the Kimron Veterinary Institute, Israel, told participants that the network is crucial because of inadequate epidemiological data exchange that occurs between the two regions.

Halid Kirunda, director of research, the National Agricultural Research Organisation, Uganda, noted that emerging animal diseases threaten the country, and that with the collaboration, Uganda may benefit from research knowledge about the diseases.

“There are diseases such as infectious bronchitis, chronic respiratory disease, fowl pox, fowl typhoid and coccidiosis which are having devastating impacts on our livestock, and we need to pay attention to them,” Kirunda said. The devastating impact of the African swine fever, avian influenza and other neglected zoonoses has made collaboration across countries and regions imperative, explained Chukwudozie Ezeokoli, a professor of veterinary medicine, University of Ilorin, Nigeria.  

Some of the priority diseases and challenges identified by the EU-funded consortium for focus include influenza, tuberculosis, foot and mouth disease and anthelmintic resistance.
This piece was produced by SciDev.Net’s Sub-Saharan Africa English desk.