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02.03.2006 Health

Brong Ahafo prepares committee to fight bird flu


Sunyani (B/A) March 2, GNA - Brong Ahafo has formed a 13-member committee as part of its preparations and as a response team to handle the outbreak of the avian flu disease in the region. Nana Kwadwo Seinti, Regional Minister is chairman of the committee with the Regional Co-ordinator of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) as secretary.

Other members are the Regional Director of Health Service, Regional Information Officer, Commander of the Three Garrison of Ghana Army and Regional Police Commander.

The rest are Regional Fire Officer, Regional Director of Social Welfare, Regional Veterinary Officer, Regional Director of Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, President of the Local Council of Churches, Regional Director of Education and the Regional Director of Forestry. Dr. Matthias Kojo Ayensu, Regional Veterinary Officer, said at a day's seminar on the bird flu disease in Sunyani on Thursday that the committee would meet once every month to review its activities. The seminar was jointly organised by Brong Ahafo Regional Poultry Farmers Association and the regional office of the Veterinary Service.

Dr Ayensu gave the assurance that much awareness was being created through workshops and the media to educate the farmers to be alert for any abnormalities in their poultry.

He said every district in the region would receive five million cedis from the government to help with the sensitisation programme but said the amount was woefully inadequate considering the huge task involved.

He said the committee would, however, liaise with the District Assemblies for support and that UNICEF had provided 50,000 dollars to the country to do a documentary on the disease should it break out and each region would receive its share.

Dr. Alhassan Mahama, Sunyani Municipal Veterinary Officer, commended the farmers for organizing the programme, which he said would be of immense help to all.

He described the Tano basin as high-risk area because as a wetland area it attracted water birds and his office had a surveillance team that frequently visited the area and other wetland areas.

Dr. Mahama said the team had also been visiting areas where live birds were sold as well as poultry farms to educate the farmers on the symptoms of the disease and steps to be taken should they encounter it, adding scheduled training programmes had been devised for the farmers and veterinary officers to handle any disaster.

He assured members of the general public that there was no cause for alarm as at now and they could still patronize poultry products and eggs since there had not been any sign of the disease.

Mr. Gabriel Kwame Awuah, Regional chairman of the Association described the seminar as timely as most of the farmers had expressed their fears of a possible outbreak of the disease.

He said most farmers would be out of job should the disease break out and expressed the hope that it would not happen in the country. Mr. Awuah noted that sales of poultry products had declined significantly because people had shunned them and appealed to the public to patronize the products since the disease had not yet been reported in the country.

Mr. Ishmael Addai, a 37 year-old egg seller said he used to sell 1,000 crates of eggs per week but now he could sell less than 300 crates per week.