Govt to strengthen veterinary services to combat Avian Influenza

Wed, 27 Oct 2021 Source: classfmonline.com

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The Government has announced major interventions that seek to ensure the effective containment of the spread of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in the country.

The interventions according to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, will be done through the strengthening of the Veterinary Services Directorate (VSD) of the Ministry.

Seven out of the 16 regions in the country have so far been affected.

Updated figures available at the Ministry indicate that a total of 261,137 birds have been destroyed through culling and natural deaths.

Experts project that at the current rate of spread, the disease will infect about 300,000 farm birds necessitating their destruction by December 2021, if the Government fails to intervene.

The projection paints a negative outlook for the poultry industry and the economy as a whole and therefore represents an urgent call to action.

The Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto disclosed the intervention at a press conference held in Accra, today, Monday, October 25, 2021.

According to him, the situation poses a major challenge to the VSD in its containment efforts to stem the spread of the current HPAI disease which broke out in July 2021.

Similar cases of the HPAI disease have been reported in the sub-region raising concerns about a possible ravaging effect on Ghana’s poultry industry.

On account of the above, the Ministry presented to Cabinet for consideration, a proposal for the urgent recruitment of 1100 veterinary professionals and an emergency operational funding support totaling GHS43,984,017.70.

This is to ensure the strengthening of the institutional capacity of the VSD to effectively perform its functions of prevention, detection, and control of animal diseases in the country.

The HPAI is a virulent zoonotic disease easily transferrable from birds to humans.

This occurs through direct contact with infected birds, contaminated feed, fomites, and interaction between farmhands.

Historically, Ghana has experienced HPAI outbreaks in 2007, 2015, and 2018 prior to the current outbreak in 2021.

In all cases, the disease has led to high mortality of birds running into thousands, loss of livelihoods, and investments.

Official records at the Ministry indicate that in 2015 during the second outbreak, a total of 148,000 birds were destroyed nationwide; the highest to date.

At the time, the Government of the day intervened by releasing GHS11,000,000.00 to cover compensation, logistics, and other containment measures.

Since then, the VSD has relied on the logistics procured from the GHS11,000,000.00 emergency support for its operations of disease surveillance and management.

Source: classfmonline.com
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