Written by ILRI scientists Kristina Roesel and Barbara Wieland
From 4-8 Sep 2016 more than 250 researchers from 55 different countries met in Berlin, Germany, in the historic buildings of the Humboldt University, for the first joint conference of the Association of Institutions for Tropical Veterinary Medicine (AITVM) and the Society of Tropical Veterinary Medicine (STVM).
AITVM is a foundation of 24 veterinary faculties and livestock institutes based in Africa, Asia and Europe with the mandate to improve human health and quality of life through increased and safe food production in tropical regions through enhancement of research, training and education in veterinary medicine and livestock production within the framework of sustainable development.
STVM is a non-profit organization whose purpose is the advancement of tropical veterinary medicine, hygiene and related disciplines. It comprises scientists, veterinarians and students from more than 40 countries with common interests in tropical veterinary medicine.
During the meeting, scientists from all continents shared insights into their research, discussed topical issues in plenary sessions or in smaller groups during poster session, and established new and refreshed old contacts and friendships. An 8-strong team from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) met with conference participants, contributed 15 oral and 9 poster presentations, and chaired 3 sessions. ILRI staff also contributed to the preparation of the conference, being involved in reviewing abstracts and endorsing the event.
One of the parallel sessions was led by ILRI scientists, where they presented findings from the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health and the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish. The session, entitled ‘Zoonoses, food-borne diseases and health in low-/middle-income countries—from knowledge to action’, was opened with a keynote from ILRI’s Barbara Wieland. She outlined the multitude of different ways in which livestock directly and indirectly contribute to improved human nutrition, using examples from different ILRI research projects.
ILRI’s Fred Unger then discussed food safety risks along the pork value chain in Vietnam and explained how a PigRisk project explored ways to mitigate risks. ILRI’s Johanna Lindahl in her presentation on Rift Valley fever emphasized the role of emerging diseases and climate change. ILRI’s Kristina Roesel explained how participatory research on the pork value chain in Uganda contributes to closing information gaps in developing countries. Pig farmers had reported signs of a disease that had so far been unknown to exist in Uganda, which triggered a survey on the zoonotic diamond skin disease and lead to confirmation of the disease for the first time in Uganda. ILRI’s Barbara Wieland concluded the session with a talk on milk safety and processing of dairy in pastoralist areas in Ethiopia on behalf of Kebede Amenu, a DAAD postdoctoral fellow at ILRI.
The overall scientific program consisted of 132 oral and 146 poster presentations, which covered a huge range of topics ranging from One Health, food safety, animal production, emerging and endemic diseases, genetics, vaccine development, epidemiology, surveillance, animal welfare, to overview presentations on network initiatives resulting in an exciting potpourri that ensured that there was something of interest for everybody.
One Health, need for collaboration, issues related to pastoralism and antimicrobial resistance were topics getting a lot of attention during plenary keynote presentations. When asked what topics they were most interested in or inspired by, ILRI staff attending the conference mentioned the following topics
- Need to understand economic consequences of antimicrobial resistance (and antiparasitic drugs) in animal production
- Need for ILRI to engage in One Health research
- Economic assessments of interventions
- Leptospirosis in animals and resulting risk for public health
- Qualitative research on mastitis and how this could be used in other ILRI projects
During the closing ceremony it was announced that the next joint AITVM/STVM conference will take in Buenos Aires, in Argentina, in 2018—a great choice for a joint conference of two organizations aiming to improve tropical veterinary medicine because ‘it takes two to tango’. The ILRI team is motivated to share ILRI research outputs and exchange views, experiences and ideas with researchers from all over the world in South America in the near future.