5 February 2021

Key stakeholders discuss the need for access to essential veterinary medicines in Ethiopia

Key stakeholders attended a workshop in Ethiopia on Tuesday January 26 to discuss the urgent need for better access to essential veterinary medicines in the country.

Data shows 100% of Animal Health Practitioners (AHP) in Ethiopia do not have access to the veterinary medicines they need and 40% lack correct equipment including sterile needles and syringes. Many cases are treated with just one or a combination of three drugs; Oxytetracycline, PenStrep and Ivermectin.

Human health is closely intertwined with the health of animals. In fact, up to 75% of emerging diseases and up to 60% of infectious human diseases are of animal origin. Therefore, preventing disease in animals through vaccination and quality health care is essential for human health. Official records indicate that Ethiopia has the largest livestock resource in Africa. Working equines, particularly, are the backbone of the agricultural sector and sustain the livelihoods of tens of thousands of communities. It is imperative, therefore, that these animals receive timely and quality treatment to relieve unnecessary suffering and prevent future pandemics of zoonotic diseases like COVID-19 or SARS.

Ethiopia’s animal health services are mainly run by the public veterinary services and by animal welfare charities like Brooke. The Veterinary Drug & Animal Feed Administration & Control Authority (VDAFACA), established in 2011, is the sole state regulatory organ for veterinary drugs and plays a key role in promoting the rational use of medicines.

Organised by Brooke Ethiopia, VDAFACA and the Ethiopian Veterinary Association (EVA), the workshop followed an earlier announcement by Brooke and the World Veterinary Association (WVA) that they would be collaborating to create the world’s first ever list of essential medicines for livestock. Attendees included over 50 participants from regional state bureaus, delegates from the FAO, the National Bank of Ethiopia, Ohio State University and the Ministry of Trade.

The workshop highlighted the challenges of access to basic and essential veterinary medicines and set a foundation for future collaborative interventions in improving access. At the end of the meeting, all stakeholders signed an agreement to set to work on solving this issue.

In his key note speech, Advisor to the State Minister for Livestock Resources Development Sector with the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), Dr Yohannes Girma said: “Adequate supplies of basic veterinary medicines is one the focusses of the government’s new Ten Year Agricultural Plan and we shall work together with all concerned stakeholders to bring about a sustainable solution in this regard.”