The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) through the Emergency Center for Transboundary Animal Disease (FAO – ECTAD), in collaboration with the Federal Department of Veterinary and Pest Control Services, recently organised a three-day training to improve capacities of relevant stakeholders at the sub-national levels, to curtail the looming Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (bird flu) outbreak and other animal diseases as well as their consequences.
The FAO Country Representative in Nigeria H.E. Suffyan Koroma in a statement issued to journalists in Abuja explained that the aim of the training was to enable them carry out in-depth investigation of the source, causes, incidence and prevalence of very infectious animal diseases.
According to the statement, “A total of forty (40) Participants for the training were field veterinary officers from the federal and state service in charge of animal disease control and the medical doctors from Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Federal Ministry of Health, facilitated by experts from ECTAD Regional Office and the Epi Unit of the Department of veterinary services.
It reads in part; “The training was organised in a bid to acquaint field staff from the veterinary and public health services on how to study and determine the complexities of animal disease, with special focus on avian influenza H5N1 and H5N8 virus.
“In 2016, it was reported that poultry farmers in 26 out of the 37 states in Nigeria experienced the bird flu outbreak that killed nearly four million birds. While other Transboundary Animal Diseases (TAD), like rinderpest, foot and mouth disease had in the past dealt a blow on the livestock sector.
“Collectively but at different times, these affected the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), threatened national food and nutrition security and caused serious job losses. For the HPAI, though first reported in Kano State, the new strain is easily contagious and more devastating to poultry species. Thus the concern that it may further spiral out of control.”
It further reads, “But more than diseases, other challenges are lack of appropriate policy and regulatory frameworks, fragmented and poorly organised livestock value chains and low capacities for effective animal disease surveillance, detection, preparedness and response to outbreaks, among others.”
While commending the initiative to train the experts, the Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO), Olaniya Alabi, noted that participation from the Ministry of Health and the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is laudable.
He said; “Working together in the spirit of One Health and good understanding of associated risk factors are very critical for the prevention, effective containment, control, and possibly eradication of major zoonotic diseases.”