News and updates on research on livestock value chains by the International Livestock Research Institute and partners

Monday, February 28, 2011

Study identifies key elements for successful adoption of rational drug use principles by livestock farmers in West Africa

Selling livestock at Niamana Market in Bamako, Mali. Adoption of rational drug use principles is a sustainable strategy in the fight against trypanosomosis in West Africa. (Photo credit: ILRI/Mann)

Creation of ‘knowledge champions’ through training of farmers, working with the mass media to create awareness and using participatory methods are among key factors necessary for successful uptake of rational drug use principles by livestock keepers in West Africa, according to a study  published in the February 2011 issue of the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability.

African animal trypanosomosis is one of the most severe cattle diseases in sub-Saharan Africa, resulting in losses valued at an estimated USD 4.5 billion annually.

While the disease may be tackled by keeping of trypanotolerant cattle breeds and controlling the tsetse fly vectors by insecticides, control of the disease-causing trypanosomes by treatment with drugs has been identified as the most important strategy. However, widespread use of trypanocide drugs often results in drug resistance and, consequently, treatment failure.

The adoption of the principles of rational drug use developed by the World Health Organization has been identified as one of several strategies that can help to sustainably combat African animal trypanosomosis in the cotton zone of West Africa where the disease is endemic and trypanocide drug resistance is high.

The principles call for the use of preventive mechanisms to decrease the need for drugs; reduce the use of drugs by substitutes; and ensure that drugs are used only if there is a clinical need for them and at a dose that is adequate.

The study evaluated the impact of training of smallholder farmers on rational drug use with respect to increased farmers’ knowledge and farm productivity.

Results of the impact assessment found that trained farmers were better able to identify signs of the disease, bought trypanocides from safe sources, and administered the medicines better than non-trained farmers, leading to a reduction in treatment failures which could be due to resistance.

In addition, using the appropriate amount of the drug enhanced productivity by way of reduced spending on trypanocides as compared to other vital farm inputs such as animal feeds.

In order to enhance the adoption of rational drug use principles by farmers, however, the study calls for the use of participatory methods that involve the existing village network structures in order to create awareness and transmit knowledge.

Dr Hippolyte Affognon, formerly a postdoctoral scientist with ILRI’s Market Opportunities theme, is a co-author.

Liebenehm S, Affognon H and Waibel H. 2011. Collective livestock research for sustainable disease management in Mali and Burkina Faso. International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability 9(1): 212-221.

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