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Zoetis A.L.P.H.A. Initiative Closing Gender Gap and Extending Borders in Sub-Saharan Africa

Accelerated efforts in second year of the A.L.P.H.A. initiative

Wednesday, May 29, 2019 8:00 am EDT

Dateline:

ZAVENTEM, Belgium
"Farming and animal agriculture are major forms of livelihood for people in sub-Saharan Africa. By improving access to critical veterinary products and services, and building an infrastructure for quality animal healthcare, we can make a positive long-term impact."

Zoetis’ African Livestock Productivity and Health Advancement (A.L.P.H.A.) initiative, which aims to improve livestock health and positively impact farmers’ livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa, is increasing access to animal health education and infrastructure in its second year. Following the success of A.L.P.H.A. in Uganda, Nigeria and Ethiopia, the initiative was extended by two years, and will now run until 2022. It was also geographically expanded into Tanzania. The initiative has also placed a special emphasis on providing equal access to animal health training for women.

“Animal health is extremely important in contributing to sustainable economic development goals and business opportunities in Africa,” said Clint Lewis, EVP and Group President at Zoetis. “Farming and animal agriculture are major forms of livelihood for people in sub-Saharan Africa. By improving access to critical veterinary products and services, and building an infrastructure for quality animal healthcare, we can make a positive long-term impact.”

Sub-Saharan Africa is home to some of the largest livestock populations in the world – and the highest density of impoverished livestock farmers.1 Livestock is an essential asset to rural communities: improving its health, and the productivity of farmers are critical to achieving food security in areas of exceptionally high animal and human disease incidence.

Wider access to education for smallholder farmers and women
The initiative, which has been funded by a $14 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is helping farmers by providing training on animal nutrition, disease detection and other animal health issues. Because women play a key role in the region’s small farms, A.L.P.H.A. works to ensure gender balance in these trainings to transform the livestock sector and society more widely. In sub-Saharan Africa, women are often responsible for daily animal care, including feeding and cleaning, so training and educating them about animal nutrition and disease detection can improve farm productivity.

Over 1000 farmers, 610 farmers’ trainers, and 300 veterinarians and feed millers received specialized training. In Uganda, over half of the training participants were female.  An estimated 97,500 smallholder farmers benefited from training thanks to a train-the-trainer approach.

Geographic extension to Tanzania
This year, the A.L.P.H.A. initiative expanded its scope to Tanzania, which is home to 11% of the African cattle population1. The majority of farmers and animal keepers in Tanzania continue to operate in a very traditional way and this is also reflected in veterinary care. Although there is a well-established veterinary network and several veterinary colleges in Tanzania, the teaching approach and level of animal care has struggled to keep pace with technological and medical developments. 

Establishing laboratory networks in Uganda
In addition to training, the A.L.P.H.A. initiative helps develop the necessary physical animal health infrastructure. Successful collaboration with suitable laboratory business partners led to the set-up of sustainable diagnostics labs in A.L.P.H.A. countries. In March 2019, Zoetis announced the official opening of new diagnostic laboratories in Butalangu, Nakaseke District, and Nabitanga, Sembabule District, Uganda, in cooperation with Uganda Meat Producers Co-operative Union (UMPCU).

The laboratories offer a range of diagnostic services, including pre-movement tests, microscopy for internal blood parasites (Trypanomosiasis, East Coast Fever, Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Helminthiasis), screening and confirmation of Brucellosis and Bovine Tuberculosis, and using ultrasound to detect pregnancy. These labs bring together over 2,600 beef livestock farmers who are focused on producing high quality meat for local and international markets. In Nigeria, a poultry diagnostic laboratory opened in partnership with Chi Farms Ltd, one of the biggest day-old chick producers in the country. Chi Farms also acts as a distributor for Zoetis vaccines. A.L.P.H.A. provides vital support in the form of high quality training, laboratory equipment, personnel, and access to international support and knowledge.

Foundation for enhanced veterinary care through products and knowledge
Zoetis also submitted registrations for about 60  animal health products, diagnostics and vaccines in Uganda, Ethiopia, and Nigeria.   Once approved, they will offer a large range of solutions for disease prevention in poultry and livestock.

Empowerment of the veterinary industry is a critical element of A.L.P.H.A., as the value of veterinary professionals is often underestimated by farmers who have poor access to their services. Zoetis continued to facilitate publication of a quarterly veterinary newsletter supporting Nigeria and Uganda’s National Associations of Veterinarians. The publications provide a platform on which to share best practices and identify the needs of the country’s thousands of association members. In Uganda, the veterinary newsletters are unprecedented and were launched by the Minister of Agriculture. Zoetis also facilitated an educational learning platform called Learn & Grow for various stakeholder groups which includes business training courses through VetVance and a reference library for veterinarians and veterinary students, called Vetlexicon Bovis.  Additionally, the company’s veterinary experts held several technical trainings for local veterinary service providers and distributors to help continued professional development. 

“We strive for sustainable improvements which will make a difference for smallholder farmers in these three markets. Key in our approach is the ownership we can create with veterinarians, authorities, distributors and farmers that starts with awareness and therefore education and training,” concluded Dr. Gabriel Varga, Regional Director Sub-Saharan Africa at Zoetis and lead of the A.L.P.H.A. initiative.

About Zoetis
Zoetis is the leading animal health company, dedicated to supporting its customers and their businesses. Building on more than 65 years of experience in animal health, Zoetis discovers, develops, manufactures and commercializes veterinary vaccines, medicines and diagnostics, which are complemented by genetic tests, biodevices and a range of services. Zoetis serves veterinarians, livestock producers and people who raise and care for farm and companion animals with sales of its products in more than 100 countries. In 2018, the company generated annual revenue of $5.8 billion with approximately 10,000 employees. For more information, visit www.zoetis.com.

1United Nations, 2017. World Population Prospects: Key findings & advance tables. [Online] Available at: https://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/Publications/Files/WPP2017_KeyFindings.pdf