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29.05.2007 General News

Northern Region alert on bird flu

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The Northern Regional Directorate of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) has formed a 13-member Regional Task Force with the Regional Minister as the chairman to deal with the threat of Evian influenza to the region.

The task force is made up of the Regional Director of MOFA, the NADMO Coordinator, Regional Commanders of the security agencies, Director of Information Service Department as well as other directors of institutions.

In an interview, Sylvester Adongo, the Regional Director of MOFA said that the committee would soon be inaugurated to carry out its surveillance and monitoring duties.

"There are other sub-committees in the various districts monitoring the bird flu and educating farmers about the disease".

He said the committee would intensify public education, organise durbars, forums, radio talk shows and carry out periodic surveillance across the region about the disease.

Mr. Adongo said a ban had been placed on the transportation of birds into and out of the region and that any vehicle carrying birds without permit would be denied entry into the region and the birds would be destroyed.

"We have put teams at all strategic points to deal with such situations".

He said fear and panic had gripped the region because the Brong Ahafo Region, which shares borders with the Northern Region, had recorded an outbreak and so efforts have to be intensified and any abnormalities about birds should be reported to contain the disease.

Mr. Adongo said a major hindrance to the efforts of the committee in tackling the disease was lack of funds and that the region requires about 1.5 billion cedis to carry out its duties.

He said a proposal had been sent to the National Evian Flu Task Force for assistance and appealed to NGO's and other benevolent organisations to assist financially.

Mr Adongo said if the disease breaks out in the region, it would be very difficult to control since almost all households had birds and all birds in the region were on free range.

Dr. Agyemang Karikari, the Regional Veterinary Officer, said efforts had been stepped up against the outbreak of the disease and appealed to the public and the media to assist with information.

He said MOFA had received some reports on suspected cases of bird flu in the region and those birds were killed and sent to Korle Bu but a test on them proved negative and urged the public to continue to provide such information.

Dr. Karikari commended Action Aid, World Vision, ADRA, World Health Organisation and other organisations for assisting in sensitising and educating farmers and the public about the disease.

Source: GNA

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