The Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying (DAHD), Government of India and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have signed a multi-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) in New Delhi on Wednesday to work together on sustainably improving India’s livestock sector to support the nation’s food and nutritional security, and protect the economic wellbeing of small-scale livestock producers.
The Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying is working to improve animal health and production programmes to ensure food security and economic development. Developing the livestock sector envisages strengthening animal husbandry infrastructure, entrepreneurship development and implementing ‘One Health Framework”. To meet food and nutritional security challenges and to safeguard human health, it is essential that animal health is accorded a priority. Through this collaboration, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will provide technical assistance for the design and delivery of new technologies and implementation of best practices that are relevant to India’s local context.
The joint support programmes will be directed at improving livestock health, production, and animal nutrition, identifying scientific and technological solutions for major infectious diseases, providing technical assistance in translational sciences, identifying opportunities for scientific and technological collaboration, and implementing the One Health Framework. Covid-19 has accelerated the need to implement solutions for better human, animal, and environmental health. Implementation of the One Health framework will allow tracking and resolution of animal and human health challenges and will prevent possible infection and disease outbreaks. The National One Health platform will be established as part of this partnership to improve coordination, productivity, and support livelihoods of small-scale producers.
Talking about the collaboration, ParshottamRupala, Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying said, “The Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying is committed to monitor and significantly improve animal health and production in the country. This partnership with the Gates Foundation will provide technical assistance to the department to ensure sustainable growth and prosperity of India’s livestock sector and to promote an efficient, multisectoral One Health approach on critical animal health issues among a broad set of stakeholders.”
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Dr. K Vijayaraghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to Government of India highlighted the significance of the collaboration and reiterated that the expected outcomes would go a long way in sustainably improve the livestock sector thereby resulting in economic development.
Atul Chaturvedi, Secretary, Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying said, “Strengthening the livestock sector is one of the pre-requisites for effective implementation of One Health. This collaboration will strengthen our digital infrastructure, research and development capabilities and bridge the information gap with respect to animal-human interactions among public and private stakeholders”.
Addressing the panel at the MoU signing, Hari Menon, Director, India Country Office, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said, “Gates Foundation is honoured to deepen partnership with DAHD, with the aim of contributing to the Government of India’s national goals for sustainable development and improvement of the livestock sector. This partnership builds on our focus on enhancing productivity and income for small livestock keepers and we hope to bring in contextually relevant expertise, innovations, and global and domestic best practices through partners to support the DAHD’s priorities of nutritional security, inclusive economic empowerment while aligning with India’s One Health Framework”.
The event saw participation from various stakeholders from the Government of India, international organisations such as WHO, FAO, OIE and World Bank as well as researchers, academicians, state animal husbandry officials, key personnel from health and wildlife departments, subject matter experts, and others to discuss collaborative activities to implement the One Health initiative in India.