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COLLEGE STATION, TX - Devastating disease outbreaks among
livestock in the United States are relatively rare and can
generally be rapidly contained, when they do occur. However, in the
countries of East Africa, livestock disease outbreaks are common.
Like our fifty states, the countries of East Africa are separate
entities that nevertheless have a lot of interstate movement-of
both people and animals. They currently lack a unifying system of
animal disease prevention and control. Furthermore, when
diseases do occur in East Africa, the results can be devastating to
livestock producers. Cooperative, safe, and stable livestock trade
would lead to improved incomes, economic stability, and therefore a
better quality of life for many in the region.
Therefore, veterinary leaders from many of these countries-with
help from the United States Department of Agriculture and the USAID
(United States Agency for International Development), are working
to create a Standard Methods and Procedures in Animal Health
(SMP-AH) that may then be implemented in East African nations.
As part of this effort, Chief Veterinary Officers (CVO),
epidemiologists, and other leaders from six countries in East
Africa (Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Djibouti, and
Uganda), who collectively share oversight for more than 300 million
animals, recently spent two weeks in the United States, with a week
in Oregon and Washington state and a week in Texas-during which the
group visited the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine
& Biomedical Sciences (CVM).
"The CVM is taking a lead role in the One Health Plus
Initiative, the recognition that animal, human, and ecosystem
health are all inextricably linked," said Dr. Eleanor Green, Carl
B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine. "It is through collaborative
projects such as this that we are able to build a global
partnership that improves the quality of life for people and
animals in other parts of the world."
The visit, hosted by both the Norman Borlaug Institute for
International Agriculture at the Texas A&M College of
Agriculture & Life Sciences and the CVM, included a welcome
from Dean Green, a tour of the facilities-including the large and
small animal hospitals and the necropsy facility-and lectures by
several CVM and AgriLife faculty members. The group then spent the
afternoon visiting the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic
Laboratory and the National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic
Disease Defense (FAZD Center) before boarding a bus to Austin.
"We're showing them how the US manages disease control in
livestock in a wide variety of ecosystems," said Jeff Austin of
USAID-East Africa, on large ranches and small ones. Members of the
CVM faculty helped with hosting the delegation from Africa. Guy
Shepherd, Director of Development; Dan Posey, Director of Special
Programs and Clinical Associate Professor; and Clay Ashley,
Director of Veterinary Medical Park, led the tours of the CVM
complex and answered questions about the practice of veterinary
medicine in the United States. Dr. Kenita Rogers, Associate Dean
for Professional Programs provided an overview of the CVM
veterinary curriculum; Dr. Michael Chaddock, Assistant Dean for One
Health and Strategic Initiatives, lectured about the One Health
Initiative; Dr. Jason Cleere, Associate Professor in the Department
of Animal Science in the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences
and Extension Beef Cattle Specialist, spoke about the
Texas beef industry and the effects of drought; and Dr. Thomas
Craig, Professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology
(VTPB) at the CVM, discussed parasite management in small
"There are so many resources at Texas A&M we can take
advantage of," said James Wabacha, SMP-AH Manager, African Union -
Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources. "I really enjoyed going
through the clinics-they're such great facilities. I have taken
photos to share with other faculty members in my country."
Creating standard methods has to be a bottom-up approach,
several people noted, that the producers themselves understand and
support, rather than regulations imposed from the top-down by the
United States-or any other country. Furthermore, simply taking our
procedures and using them in Africa wouldn't work, because their
needs-and the diseases-are different, said Andrew Clark of
"You have Africanize [the control methods] to match the
diseases," Clark said.
Several of the visiting veterinarians mentioned the need for
partnerships between their countries and the United States.
"I expect some relationships to develop," said Nicholas Kauta,
CVO of Uganda. He, and several other CVOs, mentioned that one of
the most useful parts of the trip for them was the opportunity to
meet veterinarians and researchers who might later be a source of
help and advice.
Peter Ithondeka, CVO of Kenya, noted that Texas is a perfect
place to study procedures because it has similar weather as much of
"We can take the good things here," said Bewket Siraw, CVO of
Ethiopia, "and bring change in our own environments." Even when
they can't apply them directly, the methods used in the United
States can then be adapted, he said.
"We have found many things we want to take back to our own
countries," said Kauta.
"One of the goals of this trip is to provide the East African
CVOs with knowledge and experiences that they can adapt to benefit
their entire region," said Dr. Linda Logan, Professor and Head of
VTPB at the CVM and one of the organizers of the visit. "Livestock
production is a key to food security in East Africa. Developing a
system to promote safe livestock trade was the objective of the
program. Although many had been to the United States before, this
was the first time many of the CVOs had seen livestock production
methods first hand."
For more information about the Texas A&M College of
Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please visit our
website at vetmed.tamu.edu or join us on Facebook.
Angela G. Clendenin
Director, Communications & Public Relations
Ofc - (979) 862-2675
Cell - (979) 739-5718
Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843
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