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Health News Sun, 24 Jan 2016

Stakeholders discuss how to halt bird flu in Accra

Dr Hannah Bisiw, Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, has said the Ministry would soon pay compensation to nine poultry farmers who were affected by the bird flu outbreak which occurred in May 2015.

She said the payment of compensation is to motivate farmers to report outbreaks on time to ensure that timely control measures are put in place.

Speaking at a stakeholders meeting on Avian Influenza in Accra, Dr Bisiw said an appropriate compensation formula would be instituted to ensure that government and the individual farmer bore all the cost.

The meeting was held to discuss how best to stop the spread of the disease in the country, especially in Greater Accra Region.

Dr Bisiw said the determination of the compensation would be linked to the level of biosecurity measures observed by affected farmers.

She said because it was in the interest of government to stop bird flu and recapitalise the industry funds have been released to support farmers.

In November 2015, she said, government paid compensation to 25 affected farmers with an amount of GHC 1, 067,355 representing 90 per cent of the total current market value (GHC 1,185,928) for live birds that the staff of the MOFA destroyed as a stamping out measure for bird flu.

She said control and containment measures have been in accordance with the internally accepted method of stamping out as recommended by the World Organisation for Animal Health.

Dr Bisiw called on poultry farmers and officials of the Veterinary Services to ensure that the right communication channel is used to report incidence of the disease, which should be from poultry farmer to the veterinary services and from Veterinary services to MOFA, adding that any announcement on the disease must pass through MOFA before it gets to the media to avoid creating unnecessary fears.

Mrs Bisiw said anybody who makes any announcement about bird flu without passing through MOFA will be reprimanded, adding with the 36 outbreak sites recorded in the country in 2015, a total of 75,976 birds were stamped out and 26,434 birds died naturally from the disease.

She said other countries in which bird flu outbreaks have been recorded in 2015 in West Africa were Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Cote D’Iviore and Niger, adding that as we enter 2016, Nigeria reported its first outbreak of bird flu on 2nd and 5th January 2016.

Dr Bisiw commended development partners such as FAO of the UN, the World Bank, USAID, USDA and UNICEF for providing the needed financial and technical support for the control and containment of the disease.

She said MOFA and FAO signed an MOU of technical cooperation project on ‘Emerging Assistance’ to control H5N1 outbreaks and mitigate risks for virus spread which will further strengthen the control measures on the disease.

Dr Bisiw appealed to the media to report accurately on information received from the veterinary authorities so that it can assist in halting the spread of the disease.

She also urged commercial poultry farmers to observe best practices including, separating poultry according to species and eggs, restrict non-farmers from entering the farm, clean and disinfect feeders and watering equipment’s after use and report to veterinary authority sick and dead poultry among the flock.

The Minister said control of bird flu is important so that the industry will increase to high level of per capita consumption of eggs and poultry meat which is presently at 1.2 kgs and 7.98 kg respectively as reported by FAO and International Food Policy Research in 2015.

Mr John Torto, Executive Secretary of the Ghana National Association of Poultry Famers, said a media announcement in Kumasi made by a veterinary official in Kumasi about bird flu outbreak on December 22,

2015 without the knowledge of the Association, led to many poultry farmers losing their market.

He said what poultry farmers lose in a year is normally reaped in December but due to that announcement farmers were not able to restock their farms and appealed to government to assist the Association because most of the passive surveillance is done by the farmers whilst the veterinary officers do the active surveillance.

Source: GNA