Zoetis recently announced the official opening of new diagnostic laboratories in Nakaseke and Sembabule District of Uganda, as part of its African Livestock Productivity and Health Advancement (A.L.P.H.A.) initiative in cooperation with Uganda Meat Producers Co-operative Union (UMPCU).

Among those present at the official opening of the laboratories was Dr. Obai Khalifa-the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gabriel Varga – Zoetis Regional Director, sub Saharan Africa and leader of the A.L.P.H.A. initiative, Erik Mijten-Veterinary Affairs Manager and the Treasurer of the Board of UMPCU.

The laboratories offer a range of diagnostic services intended to benefit the farmers and vets in Butalangu and Nabitanga area. Among the services to offer include pre-movement tests, microscopy for internal blood parasites (Trypanosomiasis, East Coast Fever, Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Helminthiasis), as well as screening and confirmation of Brucellosis, Bovine Tuberculosis and conducting pregnancy diagnosis using ultrasound.

The Chairman for UMPCU, Herbert Kamugisha made mention that farmers have not been able to get satisfactory information pertaining to the health of their animals, especially the exotic breeds for quite some time.

“When a farmer reports their sick animal to the veterinary officer, the vet will usually give a diagnosis based on the symptoms manifested by the animal. With the support of Zoetis, using the specialised laboratory equipment, the veterinary officer will be able to take samples to the lab for testing. After this, the farmer is given the test results and a proper diagnosis of the disease which can then be treated effectively,” Herbert said.

These laboratories are going to aid both UMPCU members and non-members alike in the surrounding areas to access these services.

While A.L.P.H.A. initiative aims to advance animal health in sub Saharan Africa by improving access to medicines, training and education for veterinarians and farmers locally, Zoetis is providing veterinary diagnostics training and educational material for farmers as well as digital tools facilitating related processes.

The President for International Operations at Zoetis, Rob Kelly added that engagement of all animal health stakeholders is key to the progress being made in Uganda. To get the first laboratory diagnostic hubs up and running for the local communities will help identify diseases in poultry and cattle, improve the standard of care to these animals and ultimately improve profitability for farmers.

Kelly further stated that the new diagnostic laboratories will also act as a collection point for samples to send to larger laboratories for more advanced tests.

Technologists sponsored and trained through the A.L.P.H.A. initiative will operate the laboratory and veterinarians sponsored by the EU Beef project. They will also be available for outreach services.

This then avails members of the meat union to perform pre-movement animal testing enabling them to select animals to enter their fattening unit and complete pregnancy diagnosis.

The opening of the laboratories coincided with an A.L.P.H.A. initiative partnership meeting held in Kampala, Uganda and attended by representatives from a range of stakeholders.

Zoetis is the leading animal health company dedicated to supporting its customers and their businesses.

Zoetis serves veterinarians, livestock producers and people who raise and care for farm and companion animals with sales of its products in more than 100 countries. In 2018, the company generated annual revenue of $5.8 billion with approximately 9,000 employees.