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01 Jul 2018

More than Vaccine in a Bottle

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Executive Director, International Veterinary Health

Engaging through meetings

The second quarter of the year was incredibly busy for us. We attended meetings on rabies, lumpy skin disease (LSD), foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), pestes des petit ruminant (PPR), African swine fever (ASF), and more. I am pleased to say it wasn’t all work; we managed to have fun as well, including having a braai with our colleagues in Paris while at the OIE General Session. We had four attendees at the 86th General Session: two from Intergovernmental Veterinary Health (IVH) and two from the Policy team. This was our largest attendance in the last decade. We feel that it is important to gain a perspective on the culture and the people when we visit, especially those countries where we are trying to develop solutions for disease control, such as Morocco and Nigeria, which is why not all our pictures on Twitter are in conference halls!

We believe we offer much more than just a vaccine in a bottle. We aim to bring our knowledge and engage through workshops and conferences as part of our partnership with the community. This support takes many forms, such as studentship to investigate the transmission of lumpy skin disease or SMS project in Haiti to increase uptake of rabies vaccination campaign.

Delegates in a tiered auditorium listening to headsets and writing notes
OIE General Session, Paris, France
Delegates looking at a slide projected onto a screen behind a speaker's table, for the GARA Scientific Workshop
Global African Swine Fever Research Alliance (GARA) scientific workshop, Cagliari, Sardinia
4 Team members enjoying a bbq in the grounds of a stately building
OIE General Session Team Braai

Educating about transboundary and emerging diseases

In IVH, we aim to bring our knowledge on vaccine development, delivery logistics, media engagement, and training to meetings, workshops, and conferences as part of our partnership with the community. We believe we offer much more than just a vaccine in a bottle. This support takes many forms, from being on the Medical Countermeasures Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense in Washington, DC, to talking to students at the University of Ohio on global opportunities, participating in the GFRA FMD gap analysis in Argentina, being Chair of the Animal Health and Welfare Working Group for the International Poultry Council, and attending meetings on emerging diseases such as African swine fever. We also published an article on transboundary diseases (available here), which has been covered by a number of agricultural and trade journals.

Tall Sailing Ship docked at a quayside, with city buildings in the background
Global FMD Research Alliance (GFRA), Buenos Aires, Argentina
A wide pedestrian avenue lined with palm trees
GALVmed, Casablanca, Morrocco
Hilltop view of green fields, farm buildings, trees and a stretch of water
GALVmed, Casablanca, Morrocco

We also ensure internally that everyone understands how important it is to control transboundary and emerging diseases. As part of this, the IVH team visited the MSD Animal Health FMD production site in Cologne, Germany, where we held a mini town hall for everyone there. John Atkinson talked about the virus and how this disease is having such a big impact on people’s lives, while I talked about the shortage of good quality vaccine, and what we need to do in order to assist areas where the disease is rife. We need everyone to be aware of how the virus is changing in the field, with new strains circulating, and to have a research program focused on the best ways to address the challenges of a constantly evolving virus.

Delegates in a room listening to a speaker who is pointing at a projected slide on the wall
MSD Animal Heatlh Cologne Site, Town Hall

Partnerships to combat diseases

We are really pleased that we now have a PhD student signed up for a BBSRC Industrial Case studentship with Pirbright. The project will run over the next four years and will include a placement for the student to spend 12 weeks working with us. The title of the project is “Interactions between lumpy skin virus and the bovine dermis.” This will build on another collaboration we have with Pirbright to characterise insect-borne transmission of the virus.

Last year we partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on a project in Haiti. We wanted to address the challenge of getting people to come to rabies vaccination clinics. It is essential that we get at least 70% of the dog population vaccinated if we want to eradicate rabies. The idea was to use SMS text messaging to alert people to the campaign and to urge them to look for the vaccination points. This was highly successful and the paper has been published here.

I hope the last quarter went well for you and look forward to meeting you at conferences throughout the year.

Executive Director, International Veterinary Health