$6 million regional animal health innovation laboratory to cater for farmers in the East African region will be built in Nairobi.

The facility will be developed under a five-year Feed the Future research programme funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAid).

It is meant to help reduce livestock diseases, especially East Coast Fever (ECF) and develop a capacity for animal health through research, training, and institutional development. 

The lab will partner with scientists from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Karlo), Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri), and the University of Nairobi.

ECF is caused by a single-celled parasite transmitted by ticks. The disease, if left untreated, has a 100 per cent fatality rate. 

Over 20 million small-scale dairy farmers and pastoralists in East and Central Africa are affected by the disease. Improving animal diseases control, is critical in reducing malnutrition and improving livelihoods of livestock-dependent communities,

 in the low- and middle-income countries. Most of these have unacceptably high malnutrition levels, disproportionately affecting children below five and women of reproductive age.

“With high livestock mortality and morbidity come lowered household incomes and related degradation of social and nutritional health,” said Dr Thumbi Mwangi, an associate professor at Allen School, Washington State University, United States, and director of the animal health innovation lab.

The lab is also expected to monitor the impact of the programme in Kenyan households and train future animal health professionals.

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