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CSIR technology helps curb foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in Rwanda

Publication Date: 
Thursday, March 1, 2018

CSIR researchers were given the opportunity to test their newly developed point-of-care diagnostics system in an unfortunate outbreak of foot-and-mouth (FMD) disease in Rwanda. Officials from Rwanda University’s veterinary department and the Ministry of Agriculture approached the CSIR to assist towards the end of 2017. The CSIR’s scientific findings are being used to compile a dossier that will be sent to the International Office of Epizootics, to highlight current and future measures of controlling the disease.

Contact Person

Dr Phiyani Lebea

plebea@csir.co.za

CSIR researchers were given the opportunity to test their newly developed point-of-care diagnostics system in an unfortunate outbreak of foot-and-mouth (FMD) disease in Rwanda. Officials from Rwanda University’s veterinary department and the Ministry of Agriculture approached the CSIR to assist towards the end of 2017. The CSIR’s scientific findings are being used to compile a dossier that will be sent to the International Office of Epizootics, to highlight current and future measures of controlling the disease.

The point-of-care diagnostic system is able to collate information; give preliminary results that show if FMD has been detected and what type of strain; and send the data to the lab for further analysis. This reduces the turnaround time for results and is necessary to determine the most suitable vaccine in the shortest time possible.

The collaboration between the CSIR and Rwanda was borne from the country’s regard for biosciences and how this field could add value to its ambition to export livestock. CSIR molecular diagnostics expert Dr Phiyani Lebea says the organisation has the technology that can help solve problems on the continent and also advance technology leadership in the biosciences field. He notes that Rwanda’s willingness to participate in the research project reinforced the concept of ‘African solutions for Africa’s problems’. As part of the collaboration, CSIR scientists trained their Rwandan counterparts on the various instruments used in this field that are not readily available in their home country.

The project was funded by the Rwanda Agriculture Board and the Department of Science and Technology. The Rwandan authorities will use these skills to develop the necessary regulatory frameworks when grading livestock that is exported by the country. In turn, farmers will be able to sell scientifically approved livestock at a higher premium and increase exports revenue into their economy. For the CSIR, Rwanda has provided the testing ground to conduct a mini trial on its technology. The technology was used to confirm the FMD outbreak and has set the tone for a six-month validation process that is funded by the Technology Innovation agency. Once this is complete, the system can be licensed for commercial use and be rolled out on a large scale in different parts of the continent.