November 2020 – November 2023
For almost two decades, Zimbabwe has been facing a political and economic crisis which has had a strong impact on agricultural and livestock production. Zimbabwe is currently facing a demantling of public technical services, but also of higher education in general and veterinary sciences in particular. All animal production chains therefore suffer from the lack of effective surveillance systems for the control of diseases with high economic impact (foot-and-mouth disease, brucellosis, bovine theileriosis, cowdriosis, anaplasmosis, avian flu, etc.).
There is currently no national diagnostic laboratory which can be used if a new epidemic is suspected. Biological samples must be sent abroad for analysis. This lack of national autonomy results in late diagnoses and a limited ability to control diseases, whether animal or zoonotic.
In addition, Zimbabwe is located in the subtropical zone and shelters a significant and diversified wildlife. In the context of climate change, this makes this country a potential hot spot for the emergence of infectious diseases.
This project aims to improve Zimbabwe's autonomy to quickly diagnose the diseases circulating on its territory, put in place effective controls and develop its own animal and public health strategies. The biotechnology platform will centralize advanced biotechnological tools and will allow any Zimbabwean institution:
- to have access to technical training
- to carry out biomolecular analyses on all biological material for the purposes of diagnosis, epidemiological surveys and/or research within very short periods (a few days), which will considerably reduce the Zimbabwe health authorities response time.
The biotechnology platform will contribute to the surveillance of animal, zoonotic and plant diseases likely to affect human populations, livestock and crops in Zimbabwe and the sub-region, but also to a better understanding of the circulation of pathogens between human populations, wildlife and domestic animals.
The specific objectives are:
- Transformation of the initial molecular biology laboratory into an autonomous and adapted biotechnology platform capable of implementing cutting-edge technologies including molecular biology and serology in the detection of diseases (animals and plants), identification and characterization of microorganisms, population genetics and identification of species and shorten the time (from several months to a few days) in health responses / actions during epizootic events
- Increase in the level of laboratory security to work on a larger number of infectious agents
- Training for a larger number of technicians (from the public and private sectors), students and researchers in molecular biology techniques (genetics, virology, bacteriology, etc.), serology, and epidemiological surveillance
- Growing expertise and technical services to the public and private sector for more effective animal and zoonotic disease surveillance and control systems on a national scale, for quality controls and other technical services (training, expertise, advice, etc.)
- Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, University of Zimbabwe
- Veterinary Services of the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement
- RP-Production and Conservation in Partnership
Project coordination: Cirad