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Poultry Aid (PA) – Sustainable capacity development in poultry technology, production, and health to improve livelihoods in Ethiopia

09.06.2021: Poultry Aid (PA) is a project launched in partnership between the Vetmeduni Vienna, Vienna, Jimma University College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine (Ethiopia), and the African Livestock Productivity and Health Advancement (A.L.P.H.A) initiative of the global animal health company, Zoetis.

The partnership aimed at addressing Poultry Health challenges in Ethiopia through “capacity development activities” and “laboratory development & sustainability planning” to avail the Ethiopian partner institution with personal and infrastructural capabilities to offer diagnostic and professional services to local farmers and producers. The Clinical Unit of Poultry Medicine, at Vetmeduni Vienna, coordinates the project.

A kick-off meeting for Poultry Aid was convened

Technically, the project started in October 2019 and could achieve various project deliverables. It nevertheless was not until recently that the various stakeholders of the partnering organizations could gather and held a kick-off meeting. Owing to the multi-national nature of the partnering parties, the various public-health measures passed during the COVID-19 pandemic made scheduling in-person meetings unforeseeable. Therefore, a virtual kick-off meeting was held on the 18th of March, 2021, via Webex.

A total of 12 participants from the three partnering organizations, namely Zoetis, Jimma University College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine (JUCAVM), and Vetmeduni Vienna, took part in the session. The meeting started with a greeting by Ms. Caitriona Fenton, One Health Operations Senior Manager at Zoetis, and handed over the session to Prof. Michael Hess, Head of the Clinical Unit for Poultry Medicine, as well as the Speaker of the Department for Farm Animals and Veterinary Public Health, who officially opened the session.

Key figures of the partnering organizations contributed to the meeting

Prof. Otto Doblhoff-Dier, Vice-Rector for Research and International relations of Vetmeduni Vienna, emphasized the University's ambition and mandate to solve animal health challenges. He highlighted the University's efforts to extend activities towards international projects being one of the University's ongoing endeavours. Prof. Michael Hess introduced the Clinical Unit of Poultry Medicine, where Poultry Aid is coordinated and part of project deliverables executed. Dr. Fana A. Kidane, a postdoctoral fellow, and coordinator of Poultry Aid gave vital information regarding the inception, aims, and deliverables of the project.

Dr. Fikadu M. Abdissa, Dean of JUCAVM, highlighted the benefits of the project to the College, and how complementary it is to the College’s tradition of international collaboration with various international collaborators, among which Zoetis and Vetmeduni Vienna have come to the recent spectra of the College's global engagement.

Dr. Erik Mijten, Veterinary Affairs Manager, presented Zoetis' activities under the A.L.P.H.A initiative. Dr. Andrew Terwin, Country Lead in Ethiopia, provided comprehensive information which focused on the activities of Zoetis in Ethiopia. The company has registered various veterinary drugs, vaccines, and laboratory kits for use in Ethiopia. Dr. Theo Kanellos, – Director, Business Development and Commercial Alliance at Zoetis, as well as, Dr. Gabriel Varga, Regional Director, Africa- Sub-Saharan Region, also took part in the meeting, while Tetiana Miroshnychenko is leading the ALPHA initiative in Africa and coordinating the international ALPHA activities from Zoetis side.

The meeting ended with discussions and brainstorming of ideas that can potentially ensure the sustainability of the project.

Poultry Aid will continue until the end of September 2021

As part of the “capacity development” segment, three veterinarians from the Ethiopian partner institution- JUCAVM, had already been hosted at the Clinical Unit of Poultry Medicine of Vetmeduni Vienna, at various times from March 2020 to the end of January 2021. The scholars namely, Dr. Feyissa Begna Deressa (Associate Professor of Veterinary Epidemiology and Zoonosis at JUCAVM), Dr. Motuma Debelo Dibaba (Assistant professor of Veterinary Microbiology at JUCAVM), and Dr. Mukarim Abdurahaman Kadir (Associate Professor of Veterinary Public Health at JUCAVM) had received hands-on training on various modules of poultry diagnostic technologies. The training comprised: post-mortem examination, bacteriology, PCR modalities, histopathology, farm visits, and quality management. Additionally, all of the trainees could participate in the 3rd CEPI Summer School on Poultry Health and Nutrition, between 24th -27th August 2020, at Vetmeduni Vienna.

Currently Poultry Aid focuses on the “laboratory development & sustainability planning” component of the project whereby a diagnostic laboratory for poultry diseases will be established at the premises of JUCAVM. Vetmeduni Vienna will continue to support Poultry Aid through expert advice in human capacity development and the partnership's laboratory development & sustainability planning components. Under the current scheme, the project will end in October 2021, it nevertheless envisions a "Centre of Excellence in Poultry Medicine" at the premises of JUCAVM, broadening its services and scope to the Eastern African region beyond the grant period.

Note: The press release forms part of the priority communication related to the UN Sustainable Development Goal “Zero Hunger”.