Foot and Mouth disease project to encourage vaccine development in Eastern Africa
On January 22, the AgResults Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Vaccine Challenge Project, which uses a prize competition to support the development and uptake of high-quality FMD vaccines tailored for Eastern Africa, officially launched.
Two launch events took place during the EuFMD Global Vaccine Security Meeting and brought together stakeholders from the animal health industry to recognize the project’s potential.
Held at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters in Rome, a daytime session included presentations from the Pirbright Institute, AgResults, and GALVmed about the project’s goals and approach. In attendance were animal health companies from around the world interested in participating in the competition and developing new FMD vaccines.
After the presentations, potential competitors had a chance to ask questions and learn more about the prize structure and timeline.
Following the daytime session, an evening reception featured Her Excellency Zenebu Tadesse Woldetsadik, the Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the FAO, as well as Dr. Berhe Tekola, Director of Animal Production and Health at FAO.
This reception allowed potential participants to meet one-on-one with AgResults and Project Manager GALVmed and continue earlier conversations.
“The FMD issue is not only an issue of economic benefit. It goes beyond that,” said Dr. Tekola. “For a smallholder to lose a cow, they are not just losing an animal, but they are losing their livelihood. FAO values what [AgResults] is doing and we will keep collaborating with you because no individual organization can do their work alone.”
GALVmed CEO Dr Carolin Schumacher, who spoke at the daytime session, noted that the project could bring real change to an extremely challenging environment.
“Endemic throughout Eastern Africa, FMD has devastating effects on livestock production and utility that can significantly impact livelihoods and food security, especially for smallholder farmers,” said Dr. Schumacher. “The AgResults ‘Pay-for-Results’ model is designed to both incentivize industry actors to focus resources on this underserved market and enable buyers to better combat FMD through more consistent vaccine purchases—with the end-goal being a long-term, regional FMD control framework and a sustainable market for FMD vaccines.”
The project uses a prize competition to achieve two interconnected goals for FMD control: creating a high-quality vaccine to address all regional risks and building stronger distribution networks.
The prize is structured as a cost-share that reduces the cost-per-dose for buyers, enabling public and private sector actors to better combat FMD through more consistent purchases of the new vaccines.
These efforts aim to create a market around an effective solution that will improve animal health and strengthen farmer livelihoods. These goals align with AgResults’ broader objectives.
“Since 2013, AgResults has been working all over the world on prize competitions that tackle critical agricultural and market challenges,” said Rodrigo Ortiz, lead consultant for AgResults. “We are excited to lead this effort to leverage private sector innovation and address vaccine development and distribution in Eastern Africa.”
Over eight years, the project is expected to incentivize manufacturers to invest in developing and distributing a high-quality vaccine by demonstrating the economic benefits. By developing a stable market around FMD control, smallholder farmers should more easily access the vaccine, which is expected to reduce losses in productivity and livestock among smallholder farmers.
Speaking on her organization’s role as Project Manager, Dr Schumacher said, “GALVmed’s expertise in facilitating efficient delivery of quality veterinary medicines to smallholder farmers fits very well with the project’s intention to integrate commercial and policy approaches to achieve widespread adoption of the new vaccines.”