Rome, July 2008 - Dr. George Gunn, President of the International Federation for Animal Health (IFAH), visited Mr. James G. Butler, Deputy Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for animal health cooperation on the establishment of standards and protocols for the quality control of trypanocidal drugs in Africa.
Trypanosomiasis, known as sleeping sickness in humans and as Nagana in animals, is arguably the most important animal health constraint to sustainable agriculture and rural development of sub-Saharan Africa. Every year, some 35 million doses of trypanocides are administered to domestic ruminants, corresponding to US$ 35-45 million, but this figure underestimates the unofficial trypanocides market of unregistered products.
FAO and the IFAH Board recognise the presence of low quality and counterfeit veterinary drugs as a serious problem in some parts of Africa. IFAH recently reiterated its support for a joint technical assistance programme with FAO to help African countries to better control the quality of the trypanocides. FAO and IFAH signed an agreement on 25 July 2008 so that financial contributions from the industry will be forthcoming, as set out in the agreement to the FAO Programme Against African Trypanosomiasis (PAAT).
The project involves the creation of two quality control laboratories in Africa (East and West), the preparation of standards, processes, systems and specifications as well as provision of training for technicians. It will provide a critically important resource for veterinarians, authorities and distributors, as well as reputable companies involved in the supply of effective veterinary medicines to ensure quality control in local reference laboratories.
IFAH has appointed Dr. Frans Van Gool as its representative to attend the Consultative Committee which will undertake and coordinate the administration of this agreement. “IFAH very much looks forward to working with FAO to make this project a success”, said George Gunn, President of IFAH. “While it is not intended that the industry should control products in Africa, this agreement provides a resource to assist the authorities and industry to achieve their objective to ensure effective medications are on the market. This type of projects also enhances responsible industry behaviour and will support the ethical animal health industry”. IFAH also recognises that the programme meets the aims of the recommendations of the OIE Conference on Medicines in Africa held in Dakar, Senegal in March 2008.
Mr James G. Butler, Deputy Director-General of the FAO, considers this collaboration “an important step which addresses the issue of quality of veterinary drugs. Counterfeiting of drugs is a global problem and is particularly pronounced in developing countries. We look forward to working with IFAH on improving the quality of veterinary medicines in Africa to support local farmers and as an important means to fight poverty”.
Note to Editors:
FAO Programme Against African Trypanosomiasis (PAAT)
Trypanosomiasis, transmitted by tsetse fly, is unique to Africa. The disease occurs in 36 sub-Saharan countries covering nearly 9 million square km. Sleeping sickness, the human form of the disease, threatens around 60 million people. In addition, some 50 million cattle are at risk of nagana, the animal form of trypanosomiasis. The overall impact of the animal African trypanosomiasis on Africa’s livestock-agriculture is estimated at USD 4.5 billion per year. Often, the disease is lethal if not treated. Hence, the use of quality drugs is an essential prerequisite for successful intervention campaigns and has animal health and public human health implications.
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