FAO Kickstart Nationwide Campaign on Rinderpest Re-emergence


From: AgroNature Nigeria, Abuja

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has commenced special awareness program to alert livestock farmers and pastoralists in the country on likely re-emergence of Rinderpest.

The awareness creation included what to do when signs of the devastating animal disease or other Transboundary Animal Diseases (TADs) are noticed on their livestock.

It is expected to run for six weeks.

The FAO program was part of supports to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), aimed to raise awareness among pastoralists of the dangers of the disease which has killed millions of animals before it was pronounced globally eradicated in 2011.

“Rinderpest, also a Transboundary Animal Disease (TAD), was stamped out but virus samples were kept by some institutions for research purposes. At an African regional conference in 2015, five (5) countries, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan, agreed that the Virus Containing Materials (VCM) kept in laboratories should either be destroyed or sent to the Pan African Veterinary Centre of the African Union (AU-PANVAC) in Ethiopia for safekeeping.

“However, some laboratories in Universities and other research institutes retained the VCM. This action gave vent to the expressed anxiety that it might be reintroduced, either through accidental spillage or other human errors and it will spread to grazing areas,” the FAO stated in a press statement made available to AgroNature Nigeria in Abuja.

According to the FAO, the awareness campaign began in 2017 during a Livestock stakeholders’ strategic communication meeting to keep the participants abreast on disease recognition and the need for early warning in the case of reemergence.

It includes distribution of awareness-creation posters to livestock farmers across 18 states, three (3) each from the six (6) geopolitical regions of the country compliments the radio broadcast.

FAO Country Representative, Suffyan Koroma during his remarks prior to the distribution said, the broadcast will be made on the platforms of FRCN regional stations in Enugu, Ibadan and Kaduna in four (4) different languages, Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa and Fulfulde, adding that it contains information regarding the highly contagious epidemic animal diseases, rinderpest and TADs.

“The intention is to keep the world and our country free from Rinderpest, and to protect our animals from other dangerous animal diseases. We have to be vigilant and to immediately alert veterinary services providers to prevent further spread of infections on our animals. The message will be broadcasted twice a week, Tuesday and Thursday morning and evening for six weeks to ensure effective penetration to the target audience”, Koroma said.

Livestock farmers were tasked to ensure that they report unusual behavior among their animals, as other known TADs like foot and mouth disease, contagious bovine, pleuropneumonia, lumpy skin disease, sheep and goat pox, peste des petits ruminants, African swine fever, rabies and brucellosis are equally as dangerous and needs to be tackled as soon as they are noticed.

FAO in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development had sponsored some experts to destroy the remaining Rinderpest specimen kept in some university laboratories in Sokoto and Borno states.

The message will be closely monitored by the members of the listening groups identified in the states, which include federal/state veterinary and animal husbandry officials, members of relevant interest groups, cattle breeders, farmers and owners as well as female pastoralists.

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