The Union’s Zoonotic TB Sub-section launched life saving project in Nigeria

On World TB Day, a member of the Union’s Zoonotic Tuberculosis (TB) Sub-section launched a project to raise awareness of zoonotic TB (ZTB) among the Fulani pastoralist community in Ibarapa in South Western Nigeria whose livelihood depends on their livestock.

The Fulani pastoralists live in hard to reach areas where health services are difficult to come by. Importantly, because of this reason, they do not easily access social and health amenities, yet due to their work and living conditions, they are exposed to many infectious and zoonotic diseases, including ZTB caused by Mycobacterium bovis. This is made worse because their animals have little or no access to veterinary care and thereby can transmit the disease to their owners.

The Ibarapa Meje One Health Initiative aims to create awareness on ZTB among pastoralists, and is built on the Zoonotic TB Road Map launched last year by the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organisation for Animal Health, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, and The Union.

The roadmap highlights ten priorities for addressing ZTB, hinged on three core themes. These are to improve the scientific evidence base by collecting and reporting more complete and accurate data, improving diagnosis in people, and addressing research gaps; reduce transmission at the animal–human interface by ensuring safer food, improving animal health, and reducing the risk to people; and strengthen intersectoral and collaborative approaches by increasing awareness, engagement, and collaboration, developing policies and guidelines, implementing joint interventions, and advocating for investment.

The launch of the Ibarapa Meje One Health Initiative in Nigeria was attended by government representatives, NGOs, pastoralists and butchers, veterinarians and academics and students. It included awareness realising discussions as well as healthcare and TB screening for the pastoralists and butchers.

Prof Simeon Cadmus, University of Ibadan, who serves as the  Programme Secretary, Zoonotic TB Sub-Section of The Union and who has been a veterinarian in Ibarapa for more than 20 years, said: "Together we can promote public health and create wealth by pushing out zoonotic TB from the Fulani pastoralist community and address bovine tuberculosis in Nigeria and Africa."

It is hoped that the project will be scaled up as it gains more local and international support.