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10.06.2005 General News

Agric Minister dismisses number of anthrax deaths

GNA

Accra, June 9, GNA- Mr Ernest Akobuor Debrah, Minister of Food and Agriculture on Thursday dismissed the statistics given by the Member of Parliament (MP) for Binduri, Mr Mark Anthony Awuni that 15 people had died from anthrax in the last two years in Kaadi in the Upper East Region. He said the Ministry's records indicate that apart from one death recorded at Sakpati-Natinga, the only other death from anthrax was in Wa West in April 2005 and that there was no anthrax related deaths in 2004. Mr Debrah said this in Parliament in response to a statement made last week by Mr Awuni on the outbreak of anthrax in Kaadi, which has claimed 15 lives. He said: "When an honourable MP comes to the floor of the House to say my Ministry has not done enough to control the outbreak, when in fact my technical people were there immediately the outbreak occurred and have effectively brought it under control, then we do not do our dear country any good."

Mr Debrah said: "It is therefore necessary that we check our facts very well before making such damaging reports public to the detriment of our dear nation." He said Ghana belongs to an international community and as such a member of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and is obliged to report outbreaks of animal diseases such as anthrax to the organisation and to indicate what has been done to control the disease.

Mr Debrah said whenever anthrax has occurred in this country, "My Ministry has been very quick to go in and effectively controlled the disease." He said:" There are quite a number of areas in this country where anthrax has occurred in the past and these areas are referred to as 'anthrax belts' and it has been my Ministry's policy to go in, usually before the onset of the rains to vaccinate the animals against the disease." Mr Debrah mentioned some of the areas as Saboba/Chereponi, Wa, Tolon/Kumbungu and Santa/Tuna/Kalba.

Mr Ernest Akobuor Debrah said it was dangerous for people to consume carcasses of animals that died of the anthrax. He said:"I wish to invite Honourable MPs to join my Ministry in educating their constituents not to consume carcasses of animals, which have died of unknown causes."

On the fee charged by the Ministry for anthrax vaccination, Mr Debrah said the 2,000 cedis per cattle vaccinated is heavily subsidised by government since the production cost of the vaccine is about 9,000 cedis including transportation, syringes and other services. Mr. Albert Abongo, NDC-Bongo, later in a statement on the floor of the House called on the government and the relevant governmental agencies to go to the aid of the people of the Upper East Region to avert the looming food crisis as a result of scanty rain fall and the escalating price hikes of food items.

Mr Abongo: "The situation could be more severe if the rains do not come within these days. Even if the rains come, some varieties of sorghum and other leguminous crops that take between three-and-half to four months to mature would not produce any good yield." He said: "In a region where more than 80 per cent of the productive population are subsistence farmers, there is every cause to be worried when indicators point to a dire consequence for the people." Mr Abongo said the vagaries of the weather do not only affect plants but livestock as well, hence the need for the government to take pragmatic measures to forestall the annual recurrence of this phenomenon."

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