Health


Panel discussion at the 'Growing with dairy' meeting held at ILRI Nairobi, 9 March 2018

Erastus Kang’ethe (standing) facilitates a panel discussion at the ‘Growing with Dairy’ meeting. The panel members (left to right) are Johanna Lindahl from ILRI, Humphrey Mbugua from the Association of Kenya Feed Manufacturers and Margaret Aleke from the Kenya Bureau of Standards (photo credit: ILRI/Emmanuel Muunda).

Representatives from the dairy sector in Kenya met at the Nairobi campus of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in March 2018 for a one-day meeting organized to present the research findings and plans of two dairy projects that ILRI is undertaking in collaboration with other partners: Measuring and mitigating the risk of mycotoxins in maize and dairy products for poor consumers in Kenya (MyDairy) and MoreMilk: making the most of milk (MoreMilk).

The meeting, dubbed Growing with Dairy, brought together 33 participants representing different stakeholder groups in Kenya’s dairy sector including industry, government, consumers, academia and development organizations.

Presentations by the principal investigators of the MyDairy and MoreMilk projects discussed various activities and interventions aimed at improving the dairy sector in Kenya and boosting the health and economic benefits that Kenyans derive from the sector.

The meeting also provided an opportunity to disseminate research findings, receive feedback on ongoing and planned activities, and align project objectives with the needs of public and private actors in the dairy sector in Kenya.

The MyDairy project was funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland and implemented between 2012 and 2018 in two phases: an initial four-year phase followed by a second phase of 1.5 years. The project aimed at mitigating the risks of aflatoxins in the dairy value chain in Kenya.

The MoreMilk project is a five-year initiative (2016–2021) funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Kingdom government that works to upgrade milk hygiene and quality standards in the informal dairy value chain and maximize economic, health and nutrition benefits, especially for the poorest communities in Nairobi.

Download the Growing with Dairy meeting report

Pipetting in ILRI's biosciences laboratories

Pipetting in ILRI’s biosciences laboratories (photo credit: ILRI/David White).

The scourge of infectious diseases in Africa was the subject of a recent symposium co-hosted by the Academy of Science of South Africa, the Uganda National Academy of Sciences and the German National Academy of Sciences (Leopoldina) in Durban, South Africa on 12–13 April 2018.

The symposium titled Surveillance and response to infectious diseases and co-morbidities: An African and German perspective was attended by about 100 participants from Africa and Germany including senior researchers, policymakers and representatives from the private sector. Presentations and discussions revolved around antimicrobial resistance, One Health, co-morbidities of infectious diseases and the ‘Big Four’ infectious diseases in humans (HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and hepatitis C).

Scientists from the human medical field dominated the symposium but in a panel discussion, the few animal health scientists present, including Kristina Roesel from the Animal and Human Health program of the International Livestock Research Institute, drew the audience’s attention to the importance of a One Health perspective on human disease as two thirds of human pathogens are of animal origin. Thomas Mettenleiter, member of the Leopoldina and president of the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut (German Federal Research Institute for Animal Health), moderated the panel discussion.

The symposium was preceded by a one-day workshop on science advice jointly organized with the International Network for Government Science Advice–Africa and the International Council for Science Regional Office for Africa. Invited junior scientists got practical exposure to science advice including drafting communication strategies and role plays on infectious disease outbreak scenarios.

Article by Kristina Roesel

Wet Markets of Hanoi

Pork on sale in a local wet market in Hanoi, Vietnam (photo credit: ILRI/Andrew Nguyen).

“Is my food safe?” This question voices a fundamental consumer concern – regardless of where they live, what their income level is, or where they purchase their food. The demand for information on food safety, meanwhile, grows louder particularly among consumers in low- and middle-income countries as they move towards cities and away from farms, growing more conscious of the quality of food they eat. But that information is rarely readily available, particularly in those countries.

Recognizing the universal nature of this question, the Agriculture, Nutrition and Health (ANH) Academy created a working group to consider current research on food safety, including metrics, tools, and definitions; identify areas of opportunity or need for additional research in this area; and suggest ways to make research on food safety in low- and middle-income countries more robust and replicable.

The results of this effort are reported in a new working paper and related technical brief by the ANH Academy Food Safety Working Group, which we have co-authored with our colleagues. The conceptual framework we developed in the course of undertaking this work identifies three main areas of focus:

  • foodborne hazards and risks that consider private, public, and export standards;
  • food safety system performance, which considers how well the food system delivers safe food; and
  • foodborne disease outcomes, which look at the impact that the safety of foods has in public health and the economy, among others.

With such a wide scope and so many actors, it naturally follows that there is no one measure to comprehensively cover this issue, however, we also recognize the need for stakeholders to be able to measure and report on it to identify areas and means of improvement. An important component of the report offers principles to guide those designing and selecting appropriate food safety measures and metrics.

We recommend, among other things:

  • those undertaking this process begin with a strategic plan that includes food safety goals and steps towards achieving them;
  • the plan looks beyond processes to also consider outcomes and impact;
  • the plan includes multiple measures, accurately reflecting the complex nature of this issue;
  • what is being measured is understood and accepted by all stakeholders; and
  • the benefits of measure-based food safety systems should outweigh the costs of their implementation.

As the working group conducted stakeholder workshops and situational analyses throughout Africa and Asia, we homed in on three key considerations for those looking to delve into the issue of understanding and managing food safety risks. Decision-makers need to understand:

  • the scope of the problem, and its impacts;
  • where concern exists, what it is rooted in, how it affects behaviour and what will allay it; and
  • what is being done in management of the issue, who is and should be involved and what can make it more effective.

To be sure, the report makes clear the intimidating size and scope of the food safety issue in low- and middle-income countries. However, it also lays out a roadmap to tackling this important challenge, one in which researchers and policymakers and the private sector and others can each contribute valuable pieces to the larger pool of knowledge. This collaboration, accompanied by thoughtful planning, can create an environment where people everywhere can rest assured about the safety of the food they eat.

Article by Delia Grace and Silvia Alonso, scientists at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)

Originally posted on the ANH Academy website

Citations:
Grace, D., Dominguez-Salas, P., Alonso, S., Fahrion, A., Haesler, B., Heilmann, M., Hoffmann, V., Kang’ethe, E., Roesel, K. and Lore, T. 2018. Food safety metrics relevant to low and middle income countries: Working paper. Agriculture, Nutrition and Health Academy, Food Safety Working Group. London, UK: Innovative Methods and Metrics for Agriculture and Nutrition Actions programme.

Grace, D., Dominguez-Salas, P., Alonso, S., Fahrion, A., Haesler, B., Heilmann, M., Hoffmann, V., Kang’ethe, E., Roesel, K. and Lore, T. 2018. Food safety metrics relevant to low and middle income countries: Technical brief. Agriculture, Nutrition and Health Academy Food Safety Working Group. London, UK: Innovative Methods and Metrics for Agriculture and Nutrition Actions Programme.

Fish market in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, photo by Jamie Oliver, 2007

Fish market in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia (photo credit: WorldFish/Jamie Oliver).

Agrilinks is an online community for food security and agricultural development practitioners. During the month of March 2018, Agrilinks shines the spotlight on the topic of food safety, with a series of feature articles and resources by food safety experts on how households and farmers can ensure the safety of their crops and animal-sourced foods and prevent post-harvest losses.

In her article, Delia Grace, joint program leader for Animal and Human Health at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), gives an overview of the food safety research activities of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH). Grace also leads the A4NH flagship program on food safety.

She calls for collaborative approaches to knowledge-sharing towards improved food safety, nutrition and health of people throughout the world.

“Collaboration and knowledge-sharing will be key in addressing food safety challenges, and this collaboration must include the formal and informal markets, policymakers, researchers, and public and private sectors,” she says.

Read the article, Food safety: March spotlight needs year-round attention

ILRI Asia

A two-year project that will assess veterinary health management and veterinary drug use in Vietnamese pig farms has been launched.

The Health and Antibiotics in the Vietnamese Pig Production Project, known as VIDAPIG, is a collaboration between the University of Copenhagen, the National Institute of Veterinary Research, the National Institute of Nutrition and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

It will carry out research to identify and evaluate factors affecting veterinary health and veterinary drug use with the aim of establishing antimicrobial usage practices that are based on a One Health approach across the smallholder pig sector.

The project will be implemented from February 2018 to January 2020 in Bac Ninh Province.

Inception workshop of VIDAPIG project in Hanoi, 2 March 2018From left: Hung Nguyen, ILRI regional representative for East and Southeast Asia, Anders Dalsgaard from the University of Copenhagen, Pham Thi Ngoc, deputy director of the National Institute of Veterinary Research and Le Danh Tuyen, director…

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The Lancet Countdown tracks progress on health and climate change and provides an independent assessment of the health effects of climate change, the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the health implications of these actions. The research evidence thus generated will help to inform decision-making and drive an accelerated policy response to climate change.

The initiative is a collaboration between 24 academic institutions and intergovernmental organizations based in every continent and with representation from a wide range of disciplines including climate scientists, ecologists, economists, social and political scientists, public health professionals and doctors.

The Lancet Countdown’s 2017 report tracks 40 indicators across five areas, arriving at three key conclusions:

  • The human symptoms of climate change are unequivocal and potentially irreversible.
  • The delayed response to climate change over the past 25 years has jeopardised human life and livelihoods.
  • The past 5 years have seen an accelerated response, and in 2017 momentum is building across several sectors.

Visit the Lancet Countdown website for a thematic breakdown of the report. The full text of the Lancet Countdown 2017 report is available for free via The Lancet website.

Among the report’s co-authors are Delia Grace, veterinary epidemiologist and co-leader of the Animal and Human Health program at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and Paula Dominguez-Salas, postdoctoral researcher in nutrition at the Royal Veterinary College on joint appointment at ILRI.

A4NH annual report 2016 cover

The CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) is pleased to announce the publication of its 2016 annual report, detailing the accomplishments and developments of the fifth and final year of the program’s first phase. The report highlights research and results from 2016, including

  • the successful expansion of aflasafe, a biocontrol product helping to fight aflatoxin contamination across Africa;
  • the Stories of Change in Nutrition case study series, which shares experiences to help countries understand how an enabling environment can combine with policies and programs to drive nutritional improvement;
  • the first Agriculture, Nutrition and Health Academy Week, held in Addis Ababa, which brought together more than 300 participants from around the world to present research and learn from one another;
  • a randomized trial of an integrated nutrition-sensitive agriculture program in Burkina Faso; and
  • an update on the ongoing impacts of biofortification, with more than 140 varieties of 10 crops released in over 30 countries.

While the activities and accomplishments of each research flagship are laid out, readers will also find a spotlight on A4NH projects and programs in Africa, as well as an update on work related to gender.

Download the report

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