By Felix Oketcho
Kampala: In a strategic move aimed to curb ticks, Makerere University School of Agriculture will introduce a new tick vaccine in 2022-TheSpy Uganda has learnt through its credible sources.
The vaccine trials that are underway is being spearheaded by Anti Tick Vaccine Development Initiative headed by private sector player Alfasan Ltd.
According to College of Veterinary and Agriculture Biosecurity Principal (COVAB) Prof David Kabasa, Uganda losses close to sh 3.8trillion due to ticks infestation.
“We anticipate that Anti-tick vaccine development initiative will save the country loses to the turn of 60percent once we start using the anti-tick vaccine,” Kabasa said.
He said tick-borne diseases cause high cattle deaths resulting in food insecurity and loss of income due to treatment costs and milk revenue.
It is worth noting that on 19th March 2021 Makerere University COVAB signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Alfasan Uganda Limited as one of the joint initiatives to address the problem of ticks and tick-borne diseases in Uganda and across the South Saharan region of Africa.
COVAB principal investigator of the anti-tick vaccine project Prof Margaret Saimo Kahwa noted that they will rely on biotechnology in the development of the vaccine to avert tick-borne challenges in the livestock sub-sector.
“We are able to protect farmers livestock with the help of our scientists who are applying biotechnology approaches to develop the anti-tick product. The same approach was successfully used in Juba-South Sudan and tick-borne challenges managed to be reduced by 80%,” Prof stressed.
She noted that Africa is currently experiencing the fastest rate of population growth globally while its agriculture and livestock production are amongst the least productive and yet population depends on livestock such as cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, among others for proteins.
The Managing Director of Alfasan Uganda limited Dr Stephen Birungi commended COVAB for recognising the need to fight the universal challenge of tick-borne diseases in the region.
He appealed to the government to increase funding for research for universities to supplement the government role in addressing these problems in local communities.
The anti-tick vaccine project aims at developing an effective, affordable and safe vaccine that will reduce acaricide resistant ticks which will, in turn, encourage investment in the agricultural sector, increase food security, household income and multiplier effect on the export of livestock products.