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ILRI biosciences hub and vaccine development named global public goods by heads of BMGF and DFID


Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), and Nick Hurd, international development minister for Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID).

Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), and Nick Hurd, international development minister for Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID), argue in the Guardian’s Global Development site this month that the world needs to put science at the heart of development.

The following two of the examples of success that they cite are initiatives of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

GALVmed: ILRI is a major partner of the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed) that BMGF and DFID support. Through GALVmed, ILRI is helping to give poor livestock-keeping communities in Africa access to a vaccine against the lethal cattle disease known as East Coast fever, which is endemic in 11 countries of eastern, central and southern Africa.

This is an excellent example of the benefits that livestock vaccines can have on infectious diseases that promote poverty.

Many tropical and sub-tropical animal diseases, such as African swine fever, have no vaccines to protect stock against illness and untimely death. And those livestock vaccines that do exist are often sub-optimal.

Research to improve current livestock vaccines or to develop new ones remains critical to reducing world poverty, hunger and malnutrition. The benefits for poor people, for whom livestock are often the most important household asset, remain as huge as ever.

Vish Nene, leader of ILRI’s Vaccine Biosciences program

BecA-ILRI Hub: ILRI hosts and manages the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-ILRI Hub (BecA-ILRI Hub) that Desmond-Hellmann and Hurd mention. With state-of-the-art biosciences laboratories located at ILRI’s headquarters, in Nairobi, Kenya, serving all of Africa’s agricultural scientists, the Hub is this year celebrating its 15-year anniversary.

The BecA-ILRI Hub is helping to position African scientists and institutions for sustained biosciences innovations needed to solve some of the continent’s biggest agricultural problems.

Appolinaire Djikeng, director of the BecA-ILRI Hub

View a collection of news, quotes, tweets (#CelebrateBecA) and images about the Hub’s partners, work, resources and anniversary on Storify.

Watch a new short video about the BecA-ILRI Hub
on ILRI YouTube (2016, 4 minutes)

Below is some of what the BMGF and DFID chiefs had to say about the role of science in reducing world poverty.

If we are going to end extreme poverty, it’s going to take more than additional funds or deeper commitment, however. We are going to have to put science at the heart of international development.

‘That’s why the Department for International Development (DfID) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have signed a partnership aimed at using research, technological innovation and knowledge-sharing to transform the lives of the poorest people.

‘We believe that science should go not only to improving the lives of those who can afford it, but also to those with the greatest need, regardless of where they are.

‘This investment isn’t just altruistic.

As we saw from the Ebola outbreak, and again with Zika, many so-called diseases of the poor don’t just affect people in distant lands: they ignore class and background, and strike when we are least prepared. . . .

Publicly funded research helped create the internet and microprocessors. It led to the discoveries of penicillin antibodies, which revolutionised medicine. And it fostered a green revolution that saved hundreds of millions of people from starvation.

‘In all those cases the state, and to a lesser extent philanthropists, recognised the huge rewards to society as a whole. . . .

One example is the global alliance for livestock veterinary medicines, a partnership we have co-funded since 2008.

Among its successes has been an East Coast fever vaccine distribution network in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Malawi.

This disease is the biggest killer of cattle in 11 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, where livestock is a critical asset.

Over 1.4m doses have been sold, saving approximately $100m worth of livestock. . . .

‘We also aim to help spur the development of scientific knowledge in Africa. Working with the Wellcome Trust, we have been helping to develop the alliance for accelerating excellence in science in Africa.

We also support crop and livestock scientists from 18 African countries so that they can access cutting-edge facilities at the Biosciences for eastern and central Africa hub in Nairobi, Kenya.

‘Through our continued investment in these global public goods, we are confident that we will be able to improve the lives not only of the poorest, but of all of us.’

Read the whole opinion piece in the Guardian’s Global Development site, written by Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Nick Hurd, the international development minister for Britain’s Department for International Development: To end poverty, put science at the heart of development, 16 Mar 2016.

Get more information from the BecA-ILRI Hub and ILVAC blog sites.

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