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01 Jan 2018

Welcome in 2018

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Executive Director, International Veterinary Health

As we head into 2018 all of us in Intergovernmental Veterinary Health (IVH) hope that 2017 ended well for you. We certainly ended the year with a busy few months, with a lot of travelling, and also some exciting new ideas that we hope to bring to you as this new year progresses.

We have now added a resources section to this site where you can find training materials, infographics, scripts for radio ads, and many other items. We believe that these will be helpful for running national campaigns, but please let us know if there are other items you would like added. We will keep building on what is there so keep a watch on the page.

Rabies in the Americas (RITA)

This year RITA was in Calgary. I attended the conference and presented a paper entitled “Monitoring the Canine Vaccine Cold Chain in the Field.” This study, in collaboration with Mission Rabies and Timestrip®, used low-cost visual indicators to track the temperature of vaccines during a campaign in Malawi. Somewhat ironically, the electronic monitors being used as controls broke down. But this showed why it is important to develop new, simple methods for ensuring the cold chain is maintained.

Global Foot and Mouth Research Alliance (GFRA)

While I was at RITA, John Atkinson was in South Korea for the 2017 GFRA Scientific Meeting, which aimed to identify gaps in foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) knowledge to help direct the focus of research, as well as providing a platform for the sharing of knowledge among researchers from around the world. Once again, MSD Animal Health sponsored four awards, these being for the best poster and talk from endemic regions and from FMD-free regions.

Two men and a woman stand at a lecturn on a podium, in front of a large projected screen
John Atkinson presenting MSD Animal Health awards at the GFRA meeting in South Korea
A man is presenting a certificate to a woman, as both look directly into the camera
John Atkinson presenting MSD Animal Health awards at the GFRA meeting in South Korea

OIE Vaccine Bank Think Tank

An ornate doorway, with a stained glass window above it, in an old building opens out to a courtyard with another building opposite
OIE stained glass window, Paris

John and I both attended a day-long OIE Vaccine Bank Think Tank, at which I had been asked to be a “topic starter” for one session. The aim of the meeting, which brought together around 50 leading experts in vaccine and antigen bank deployment, was to gather opinions, perspectives, and lessons learned in order to shape the future use of these key resources. It was a really interesting day where we all shared a lot of ideas, and I hope the outcome will make it even easier for us to respond to emergencies.

The IVH team also used this opportunity to get together for a team meeting. Being based in the USA, UK, and the Netherlands we don’t get to see one another face to face enough. It was good to be able to talk about opportunities to bring our knowledge to disease control programmes and to plan how we can better help you in 2018. A dinner in a Parisian restaurant didn’t go amiss either!

World Rabies Day Awards

For the second consecutive year MSD Animal Health, in partnership with the Global Alliance for Rabies Control, ran the World Rabies Day Awards. You can see the details of the winners in the Focus On article here. We had over 80 nominations, and it was incredible to read just how much is being done, often with little in the way of resources. #ZeroBy30 and #EndRabiesNow are not just hashtags on Twitter, there is real momentum behind these efforts. Together we will make a difference.

Time to Vaccinate Symposium

John Atkinson represented IVH at MSD Animal Health UK’s technical symposium in London to launch the white paper “Time to vaccinate, looking beyond antibiotics.” The event focused on whether responsible use of vaccines is key to not only making animals healthier and improving productivity, but to driving down the use of antibiotics. Various speakers from different production animal sectors presented the paper with discussions involving the invited audience of key stakeholders.

A speaker stands in front of a large projected screen, which displays a slide title Changing the mindset
MSD Animal Health Regional Director for Ruminants, Ian Anderson, discusses the benefits of vaccination in cattle

Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) Thermotolerant Vaccine Meeting

Marta Nowak, Tenders Manager, IVH, travelled to Rome in December to attend a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)-OIE conference on PPR vaccines that reviewed the current research and requirements for thermotolerance of PPR vaccines. The workshop focused on the challenge of maintaining cold chain, which is the major limitation in the highly demanding regions where the disease is endemic. Various experts presented different thermostabilisation methods to increase the robustness of PPR vaccines, allowing short-term storage at high temperatures. The meeting produced market-driven recommendations for thermotolerant PPR vaccines, aiming to complement the effectiveness of currently available tools to achieve global freedom from PPR by 2030.

A view from a wet window showing a plane and vehicles on a snowy airport apron
Travelling to Rome in these winter conditions to discuss vaccination in extreme temperatures
View from the pavement underneath an old brick viaduct, with trees , a woman and buildings in the background
On the way to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Rome
Delegates sat at long tables, looking at a projected screen displaying a slide titled Thermotolerance SOP
Discussing thermotolerance requirements for PPR vaccines at FAO in Rome

Ohio State University One Health

I visited Ohio State University to meet with their Global One Health Initiative team in the hope that we can find some projects for some collaborative work. Certainly there were a lot of topics of mutual interest. While at the University I was also asked to speak to the veterinary students about communication during disease outbreaks. I hope that they enjoyed the Question and Answer session as much as I did.

View of a large brick building, with trees, pathways and grass in front
Ohio State University, Columbus

Executive Director, International Veterinary Health