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07.04.2004 General News

Veterinarians strategise to control major animal diseases

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Tamale, April 7, GNA - Veterinary surgeons in both the public and private sectors in the three northern regions are attending a two-day workshop to plan strategies for enhanced vaccination coverage for the control of major animal diseases in the country.

In a speech red for her to open the workshop in Tamale on Monday, Madam Anna Nyamekye, Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture urged the veterinarians to agree by consensus on strategic plans to ensure good vaccination coverage for the four major animal diseases.

She mentioned these as the Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP), Bovine Brucellosis, Peste de Petits Ruminants (PPR) and Newcastle Disease (NCD).

Madam Nyamekye noted that the four diseases pose a serious threat to the livestock and poultry industries since their outbreaks are associated with huge economic losses to the state, farmers, animal traders and processors.

She told the participants that under the Livestock Development Project the activities for the Animal Health Component are to ensure vaccination coverage of 50 percent for Peste de Petits ruminants, 80 percent for the Newcastle Disease, 50 percent for Brucellosis and 50 percent for CBPP. "I am confident that you have the capabilities and energy to meet these targets, and even exceed them," she said.

The Deputy Minister said achieving these targets would contribute immensely to reducing mortalities in the national livestock and poultry industry, a situation, which would lead to increased productivity for the farmers.

She said: "Increased productivity will lead to increase in farmers' incomes derived from livestock and poultry and contribute significantly towards our efforts at reducing poverty and creating wealth."

On the African Swine Fever Madam Nyamekye bemoaned the threat the disease poses to the pig industry noting that outbreaks have been recorded in the Northern, Volta, Central, Brong Ahafo and Ashanti Regions.

She therefore appealed to the veterinarians to intensify their surveillance for the disease saying, "the principle of early detection and reaction applies very appropriately to the control of the disease." She assured them of the Ministry's support in their efforts to stop the spread of the disease and eventually eradicating it.

Madam Nyamekye emphasised however that vaccination is not the only way of preventing diseases, saying, "the way our farmers rear their animals has invariably contributed to the spread of livestock diseases."

"Biosecurity appears to be a forgotten word. Let me make a special appeal to all pig farmers, livestock traders, as well as meat processors to obey the order banning the movement into, out of and within the various districts affected by the African Swine Fever," she said.

She said it was important that all stakeholders including the security agencies, assisted in the enforcement of the ban on movement and slaughter of pigs.

In an address, Dr. Mensah Agyen-Frempong, Director of Veterinary Services noted that for a developing country like Ghana where animal husbandry is mainly traditional, the task ahead of veterinarians is enormous.

He said: "This is so because most of the devastating livestock diseases are highly contagious and in a system where animals ... are not reared intensively but left to roam about ... the level of spread of diseases among our animals is high."

"Added to this is the absolute disregard to our rules and regulations on movement of livestock and livestock products by some livestock farmers, traders and butchers," he said.

Dr. Agyen-Frempong said: "As a Service, we do whatever is expected of us to ensure a stable animal health situation in the country but our efforts may be in vain if farmers, traders, butchers and indeed, all stakeholders in the livestock industry do not co-operate with us and obey the rules and regulations related to the movement of livestock."

The Director of Veterinary Services told the forum that since the outbreak of the African Swine Fever in 1999, the government had paid nearly 850,000,000 cedis as compensation to farmers whose pigs had been destroyed in the efforts to control the spread of the disease.

On the outbreak of bird flu in some Asian countries and the reported case of the disease in the United States, Mr. Agyen-Frempong said the government had banned the importation of poultry and poultry products from those Asian countries.

He gave the assurance that the Service was monitoring the situation in the United States and it would advise the government accordingly and ban imports where necessary from affected states in the US. Welcoming the participants, Mr. Sylvester Adongo, Northern Regional Director of Food and Agriculture noted with concern that Northern Ghana was gradually losing its livestock industry as a result of diseases, some of which are of unknown origin.

He said because of the situation livestock numbers were dwindling, making families poorer and threatening food security in the area. Mr. Adongo, who chaired the opening of the workshop, was of the view that any effort at reducing poverty in the three Northern Regions would be in vain if issues militating against the livestock industry were not addressed effectively. 06/04/04