01.06.2005 General News

Stem outbreak of anthrax in Upper East - MPs

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Accra, June 1, GNA - The Minority Leader, Mr Alban Bagbin has appealed to the Government to help to resource the Veterinary Service Department to enable it play a meaningful role in helping to fight the numerous diseases that affected the livestock industry in the country. He said the Government should make allocation in the budget to cater for equipment; research and vaccines needed for efficient and effective control of diseases such anthrax.

Mr Bagbin made the appeal on the floor of the House when contributing to a statement made by Mr Mark Anthony Awuni, MP for Binduri, on the outbreak of anthrax in Kaadi in the Binduri Constituency.

The Minority Leader said most of the doctors in the Upper East and Upper West Regions were leaving their departments to other areas where new projects and programmes were being initiated because of the incentives and motivations available on such initiatives. He questioned why the Minister of Food and Agriculture and his four Deputies were not in Parliament to respond to the statement on the floor since three of them are MPs and are duty bond to attend parliamentary sessions.

Mr Bagbin urged the Parliamentary Committee on Food and Agriculture to take up the matter of the anthrax outbreak in the Upper East and Upper West Regions with the Ministry.

The MP for Tamale Central, Prof. Al-Hassan Wayo Seini said anthrax was a very dangerous disease and killed faster than HIV/AIDS and that efforts must be made to stem the outbreak in the Upper Regions. He said due to its fatal nature, vaccination of livestock was made free of charge by previous governments and as a result, anthrax was nearly and almost wiped out of the country.

"But with the introduction of fees by the veterinary services, poor farmers cannot afford the three to five thousand cedis per animal being charged leading to the spread of the disease."

Prof Wayo Seini said since the vaccines were produced locally it was necessary for the Veterinary Services to revert to the free vaccination of livestock as was done previously.

Earlier in his statement on the outbreak of anthrax in Kaadi, Mr Awuni appealed to Parliament to inform the Government to order Food and Agriculture (MOFA) to move immediately to Kaadi to vaccinate all animals free of charge to save the lives of Ghanaians.

He said the outbreak, which started about two years ago had so far claimed more than 15 lives and several scores of goats, sheep and cattle.

He said the area had now been declared anthrax prone zone and the Ministry had been notified.

"Strangely enough the Ministry has not handled the matter with the seriousness that it deserves and the veterinary officers have stopped the vaccination exercise as a result of the inability of the farmers to pay for the drugs.

"I think the action of the Veterinary Officers in stopping the vaccination exercise is unfortunate and has serious consequences for the people, and that they are exposed to the risk of death since some of them may tamper with the carcasses of animals."

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