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11.04.2006 General News

Ghana is safe from bird flu - Debrah


Accra, April 11, GNA - Mr Ernest Debrah, Food and Agriculture Minister, on Tuesday reiterated that the bird flu was not in Ghana and there was, therefore, no need for the public to panic. He said for the moment, there was no record of the disease in Ghana, and the nation was adequately prepared to deal with the outbreak of the bird flu.

Mr Debrah, who was speaking at the World Poultry Science Association (WPSA) seminar on bird flu for poultry farmers, scientists and journalists in Accra, urged the media to be circumspect in their reportage so as not to evoke unnecessary fear in consumers of poultry products.

The detection of the bird flu in neighbouring Burkina Faso had not reached Ghana and even if it was detected the country had put in enough safety measures to contain the disease.

Mr Debrah urged poultry consumers not to be swayed by unnecessary sensationalism on the outbreak of the disease and asked the public "to continue to enjoy local poultry products". He said an outbreak of bird flu could result in massive economic and social losses, adding that the Government had issued strict directives to all districts bordering Burkina Faso to be on the alert. "If well established economies are having problems with the bird flu scare then poorer economies should take the disease very seriously," he said.

Mr Debrah called on the media as shapers of public opinion to take the lead role in the awareness campaign on the dangers posed by the disease and the country's preparedness to detect and contain it. He said it was also necessary for scientists to demonstrate to the general public that the consumption of poultry products like eggs and chicken posed no threat to human health provided they were cooked at 70 degrees Celsius.

In a speech read on behalf of Mr Ken Quartey, Chairman, Ghana National Association of Poultry Farmers, he said the immediate and sharp decline in the consumption of poultry products in Accra and Kumasi were a direct result of "induced fear of contracting the human form of the disease due to unanswered questions and media hype". He said the outbreak of the disease in some African countries had put the Ghanaian poultry industry and the agricultural sector in a precarious situation, and appealed to stakeholders in the poultry industry and other allied industries to support the educational campaign on bird flu.

He said the decline had also affected the grain industry, resulting in large quantities of maize not being bought on the local market. Mr Quartey called for Government's intervention to "mop-up the excess maize available on the market to enable grain farmers to prepare their lands for replanting next year." An egg and chicken fair was organized as part of the seminar to prove that locally produced eggs and chickens were safe.