The Indian dairy industry is promoting use of ‘pashuayurveda’, or ethno-veterinary medicine, to help control animal diseasesand decrease the chances of pathogens jumping from them to humans, as in the case of novel coronavirus.
Cattle and buffaloes account for more than 50% of the livestock population in India, according to the latest census.
The National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) is aggressively promoting use of ethno-veterinary medicine after seeing successin a pilot project run at Sabarkantha dairy in Gujarat.
“The recent Covid-19 pandemic has turned out to be a global health crisis. In order to mitigate the risk to human health,controlling zoonotic diseases at the animal source is of paramount importance,” said DilipRath, chairman of NDDB.
According to the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE), 60% of the human infectious diseases across the world are zoonoticand at least 75% of emerging infections in humans are of animal origin.
In May, the government had formed a committee to work on the OneHealth concept, of which Rath is a member. The committeeis working to promote multi-sectoral, trans-disciplinary approaches to promote OneHealth.
Promotion of ethno-veterinary medicine is part of the OneHealth concept, which recognises that the health of animals is closelylinked with the health of humans.
“Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has also become a major concern due to indiscriminate use of antibiotics to treat animaldiseases. The National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) believes that the solution to this problem lies in alternative treatmentstrategies like pashuayurveda-based ECM and has started aggressively promoting it,” said Rath.
Rabies, bovine tuberculosis, bird flu, Japanese encephalitis and Covid-19 are some of the examples of diseases having zoonoticorigins, which put a huge monetary burden on the public health systems.
The pilot project at Sabarkantha Milk Union and has been running for two years now. “About 80% of the animal diseases can bereduced significantly using EVM (ethno-veterinary medicine) prepared by farmers using locally available ingredients,” said NPunniamurthy, a retired veterinarian, who now trains veterinarians on use of Siddaayurveda-based ethno-veterinary medicine.
“I realised that the functional remedies prepared by traditional healers were more effective in treating animal diseases. However,different places have availability of different types of herbs and plants. So, we decided to use spices, which are commonly availableacross the country, to prepare medicines,” he said.
Mastitis is a common and prevalent cattle disease in India, due to which farmers suffer losses worth millions of rupees. The ethno-veterinary medicine solution given by Punniamurthy has become so popular that 30 milk unions in the country, including privateand co-operative, have started using it.