United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)and International Federation of Animal Health (IFAH) today launched an initiative that seek to establish the first pharmaceutical standards for medicines used in treating a deadly disease found in African animals.
The disease is called the Animal African Trypanosomosis, a disease more commonly known as Nagana. It can be transmitted by blood-sucking insects such as the tsetse fly, Nagana affects cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, camels, horses and donkeys.
The initiative will come up with improved drug standards that will protect the quality of veterinary medicines used to treat a deadly infectious disease.
The initiative is expected to help save the herds of millions of African smallholder farmers from decimation because of the disease. The initiative will also protect farmers and their animals from counterfeit drugs.
The disease causes an estimated $4.5 billion dollars in economic losses from reduced output of milk and dairy products, abortions of unborn calves, and lost fertility resulting in reduced agricultural productivity annully.
The effects of the disease are only exacerbated by a black market trade in sub-standard and non-registered drugs worth around $400 million dollars annually.
FAO chief veterinary officer Juan Lubroth says that the use of substandard drugs to treat Nagana not only leaves farm animals inadequately protected from the disease, but also permits the evolution of tougher, drug-resistant strains when insufficient doses are used.
He adds that said that the counterfeit drugs could pose a threat to human health “if chemical residues accumulate in meat or dairy products that enter the food chain.
FAO chief veterinary officer Juan Lubroth also heads the agency’s Animal Health Service.
According to FAO, the new standards spearheaded by the agency will provide a basis for evaluating the quality of animal medicines and serve as a measure against which national and local authorities can test for regulatory compliance.
Farm animals ware vital to the incomes and food security of millions of African smallholder farmers.
The disease is endemic in some regions of sub-Saharan Africa which covers about 37 countries and 60 million people.
It is estimated that 50,000 to 70,000 people are currently infected, the number having declined somewhat in recent years.
The FAO approach to agriculture in Africa aims to increase agricultural productivity and build resilience to environmental pressures and help farmers adapt to climate change.
Agriculture is the mainstay of the economies of many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, employing about 60 per cent of the region’s workforce and accounting for some 30 per cent of gross domestic product.