African countries have been urged to work together in the prevention and control of animal diseases which continue to pose a threat to livestock production in the region. This was said at the workshop organised by Botswana Vaccine Institute (BVI) and Barclays Bank Botswana on Tuesday.
Trans-boundary animal diseases like Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) were identified as the major factor that hinders accelerated livestock production in Africa hence the need for a collective approach in fighting them. The continent has been under constant threat of emergence and re-emergence of infectious diseases with a large part of the region identified as a global hot spot.
African Union’s Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resource (AU IBAR) representative Dr Peter Senyangwe said there is a great need to invest more on strategies that will help reduce the impacts of trans-boundary animal diseases on the livelihoods of individual farmers and the economy at large. Dr Senyangwe added that AU IBAR is working to ensure that professionals are equipped with the knowledge and skills required for effective involvement.
“Prevention, control and elimination of trans-boundary diseases is more than a national good but is global. Therefore effective protection is only possible through a concerted and coordinated effort among neighbouring countries to eradicate the diseases," he said. He commended the Southern African Development Committee (SADC) countries for working together on this. He added that the region is better placed in having the Botswana Vaccine Institute which provides the much needed disease control management tools and advisory expertise.
Botswana Vaccine Institute (BVI) has continued to get regional recognition for the effective work in the help to control livestock diseases. BVI is currently a regional and international reference laboratory for vaccine production and has been key in the production of the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine. Chief Veterinary Officer of the Department of Veterinary Services in Zambia, Dr Francis Mulenga said since the country begun getting FMD vaccines from BVI the situation with the disease have been stabilised in Zambia. According to Dr Mulenga there has been a significant drop in FMD outbreaks in Zambia as a result of this vaccine. He also pointed that this has resulted in the enhancement of block trade in the country which benefit the farmers.
Speakers at the workshop attested that vaccination is vital in the control of animal diseases. They believe that for rural livelihoods to be improved, ordinary farmers needs to be involved and taught how to handle and administer the vaccines. Dr Hameed Nuru of GALVMed said in most cases it is only in Botswana where farmers are taught and encouraged to handle vaccines in a proper way while in some countries it is not the cases.
To add to this Deputy Director of Botswana Department of Veterinary Services Dr Letlhogile Oarabile highlighted that disease control revolves around vaccination and movement restriction. He said farmer’s involvement is therefore key to achieving intended results.
Dr Oarabile said the timing of vaccination is very critical and farmers need to know this. He explained that investigations revealed that the continued outbreaks of FMD in some parts of the country are as a result of poor vaccination records which call for proper involvement and sensitisation of the farmers.
The workshop brought together government officials, heads of missions and other stakeholders to sensitise them about the importance and methods of controlling animal diseases. It was held under the theme: Improving rural livelihoods through sustainable animal disease control strategy.