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16.11.2005 General News

Emergency plan on bird flu established - Debrah

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Accra, Nov. 16, GNA - Mr. Ernest Akubuor Debrah, Minister of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), on Wednesday said the Ministry had prepared an emergency plan to deal with the detection of the Avian influenza (Bird flu)in the country.

He told Parliament that the Ministry had instituted weekly meetings with other partners including the World Health Organisation and the Food and Agriculture Organisation to review the global situation "and our preparedness in case of any eventuality."

"The veterinary laboratory in Accra is equipped to diagnose Newcastle disease, which has characteristics similar to those of the bird flu or avian influenza and can therefore differentiate the two diseases," Mr. Debrah said.

He was answering a question from Mr. Lee Ocran on measures to diagnose, combat and treat bird flu cases in the event of the spread of the virus into the country.

Mr. Debrah said: "My Ministry is working with FAO to obtain specific reagents for the virus."

He said some Legislative Instruments would be evoked for an outright destruction of poultry infected with the virus, adding, "In the event of any detection of the disease in the country, provisions of Ghana Disease of Animal Act, Act 83 of 1961 will be evoked." "Under the Act, an Executive Instrument will be promulgated to declare an area, where the flu is detected, as an infected area. All infected birds in the area so declared, and those at risk, will be destroyed and buried or burnt."

"The area will be thoroughly disinfected. The movement of birds, people and vehicles in and out of the are will be restricted immediately to prevent the spread of the disease," Mr. Debrah added. He said the law provided for the payment of full compensation to farmers whose birds were destroyed.

The Minister said as a first step towards the preparedness, public education campaigns were being undertaken throughout the country by veterinary officials to alert the public about the dangers of the virus. He said measures had been put in place to monitor the global situation and continuous surveillance being undertaken. Mr. Debrah said imports of poultry from countries hit by the virus had been banned.

Mr. Joseph Yieleh Chireh, NDC-Wa West, asked the Minister whether there were drugs readily available to treat infected persons and he answered in the affirmative.

Mr. Alhaji Amadu Sorogho, NDC-Abokobi/Madina, asked the Minister on action taken by the Ministry since the bulk of poultry consumption in the country were imported.

Mr. Debrah said with the monitoring of the global situation a ban had already been placed on infected countries.

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