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News | Feb. 26, 2024

DTRA Partners Participates in Groundbreaking Ceremony for African Union Pan-African Veterinary Vaccine Center in Ethiopia

By Andrea Chaney Defense Threat Reduction Agency

BISHOFTU, ETHIOPIA — Members of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) participated in a ground-breaking ceremony for the new African Union (AU)-Pan-African Veterinary Vaccine Center (PANVAC) laboratory and training center in Bishoftu, Ethiopia Feb 21.

DTRA’s partnership with PANVAC began in 2018 and includes the design of a new high containment laboratory (HCL) and training facility to consolidate laboratory operations and strengthen the facility’s biosafety and security (BS&S) for safe and secure handling and storage of pathogens and vaccine seed stocks, including Rinderpest.

PANVAC is a continent-wide veterinary reference laboratory, co-located with the Ethiopian National Veterinary Institute (NVI) in Bishoftu, Ethiopia. PANVAC also serves as the only Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) approved Rinderpest Holding Facility in Africa.

The AU mandate for PANVAC includes conducting quality control of veterinary vaccines produced in and imported to Africa; producing and distributing biological reagent kits for animal disease diagnosis and surveillance; training; and providing quality control and technical support to standardize veterinary vaccine production for the control and eradication of animal diseases in Africa.

To ensure the long-term safety and security of pathogens stored at PANVAC and to enable PANVAC to continue operating in accordance with their AU mandate, DTRA will support construction of the new laboratory and training facility.

The Ethiopian Minister of Agriculture, His Excellency Dr. Girma Amente said Ethiopia has the largest livestock population in all of Africa, with more than 17M cattle, 42M sheep, 52M goats, 8M camels and 60M chickens.

“Ethiopia is producing more than 20 different animal vaccines, some are exported to different African countries,” said Amente. “Therefore, quality assured vaccines and diagnostics are key tools for the control and eradication of animal and zoonotic diseases,” he said.

Amente expressed thanks the African Union Commission and DTRA for launching a generational project that will be a milestone for the livelihood of the African people.

U.S. Charge d ‘Affairs Mikael Cleverley said when they pledged to work together internationally on achieving global health security, that this PANVAC effort showed they are serious about the partnership.

“We are serious about partnering not just with the AU, but broadly to achieve the goal of food security and food abundance,” said Cleverley. “But it still takes time,” he said. “It’s taken many years to get where we are today, but I’m persuaded it will build from here.”

DTRA’s Cooperative Threat Reduction Program Director Dr. Robert Pope said together with their partners, they are building the means to reduce the threat of dangerous animal pathogens on the planet.

“PANVAC will save lives, and DTRA is incredibly grateful for the international cooperation demonstrated by so many stakeholders,” Pope said. “The African Union is one of our most esteemed partners on the continent and serves as a standard to which DTRA aspires for all our international partnerships,” he said.

His Excellency Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union, said the partnership between the AU, U.S. Government and DTRA demonstrates an innovative and transformative cooperation that will yield significant benefits across various fields.

“Sustaining and strengthening this partnership is essential for fostering development, addressing common challenges and promoting shared goals,” said Mahamat. “Together, we continue our journey to ensure good quality vaccines to control animal diseases and ensure public health in Africa so we may build a resilient ecosystem and a healthier future for our continent,” he said.

“All partners present today should take great pride in this forthcoming facility,” Pope concluded. “ Not just for the lives it will save but for what it represents to the entire world. International cooperation improves lives,” he said.

For more information on DTRA support to AU PANVAC and other programs in the Agency, visit


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