NAIROBI, KENYA, DEC 4 — Boehringer Ingelheim, one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, has launched the ‘LastMile Initiative’, an integrated, solutions-driven program that seeks to address crucial animal health challenges by creating consistent availability of animal medical resources in hard-to-reach areas.
The initiative targets ruminants, such as sheep, goats along with cattle, and will further expand to include poultry.
Established by Boehringer Ingelheim, with support from the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed) and funded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ‘LastMile’ seeks to bridge current gaps in access, availability, and awareness of animal healthcare solutions for smallholder farmers in Africa.
The ‘LastMile Initiative’ will address weak distribution channels and help smallholder farmers in Africa, who currently have low levels of awareness about animal diseases, to increase their knowledge on disease prevention and treatment.
The initiative was initially launched in Kenya, and will expand to key markets throughout Africa including Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria and Tanzania, amongst others.
The programme seeks to create long lasting partnerships with the local farming community, in an effort to establish and drive sustainable businesses that are integrated into the wider national economy.
According to experts, diseases affecting livestock can have a devastating impact on animal productivity and production, on trade in live animals, meat and other animal products, on human health and, consequently, on the overall process of economic development.
Annual losses to smallholder farmers in Africa from Newcastle Disease of poultry and endoparasites exceed US$893.1 million annually while losses from east coast fever and foot and mouth disease are close to US$382.7 million annually.
Providing access to smallholders to products to prevent these diseases will significantly help reduce losses, improve the livelihood of smallholders and increase availability of affordable animal protein for population in Africa.
To encourage community participation, Boehringer Ingelheim is aiming to establish groups of qualified animal health technicians who will travel to areas which are difficult or impossible to access through usual distribution networks.
Boehringer Ingelheim will support the technicians with trainings and awareness, equipping them with appropriate veterinary tools and providing them with data management systems. These systems will help technicians perform efficiently, while improving the tracking of activities, as well as monitoring and evaluation.
Moreover, in an effort to increase the availability of important veterinary medicinal products across the program’s main territories, Boehringer Ingelheim will intensify its registration process by adding more regulatory resources.
The products that are scheduled to go through the enhanced registration process will be determined by animal health requirements identified by smallholders in the region and in conformity with local regulations.
Enrique Hernandez Pando, Africa Country Head at Boehringer Ingelheim said: “Our focus is to equip the farming community with the right set of skills and tools and, at the same time, support local farmers, retailers and distributors while also enhancing disease prevention. From a commercial point of view, the LastMile initiative will contribute to generating higher income for small animal holders from healthier and more productive animals.”
” For the broader community, it will reflect on providing higher quality animal products for human consumption, more sustainable income and better health and education for rural families,” Enrique added.
In addition, GALVmed’s CEO, Peter Jeffries noted that the evolving needs of smallholder farmers need to be understood more closely for the animal health industry to be able to positively contribute to agricultural economic development.
“GALVmed is committed to accelerating the availability of products that are beneficial for the smallholder farmers and supporting regulatory harmonization in Africa to widen access. This initiative will eventually increase the availability of quality veterinary medicines in rural areas and ensure sustainable supply of high quality veterinary products to small animal holders,” he said.
Boehringer Ingelheim’s animal health business is the top provider worldwide of parasiticides and vaccines for livestock including ruminants amongst other production animals and pets. The animal health business represents more than 25 per cent of Boehringer Ingelheim’s total revenue and employs more than 10,000 people.