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Bird Flu: Minister Charges Poultry Farmers on Basic Hygiene

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar has called on Development Partners to practice “No Vaccination Policy” for the control of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) otherwise known as Bird Flu. He pointed out that it is waste of fund and urged Poultry Farmers to embrace basic hygiene in their business.

The Minister gave the charge at the Ministerial Press Briefing in his office, in Abuja recently.

He revealed that “No Vaccination Policy” would save the country money that would be used to import vaccine, noting that the disease can be controlled if properly managed hygienically.

The Minister stated that the briefing was crucial in view of the ongoing and persistent outbreaks of HPAI in Nigeria, noting that the disease has been depleting the poultry population with severe negative economic consequences on the livelihood of poultry farmers.

Abubakar recalled that following the resurgence of HPAI in 2014, poultry farmers and other stakeholders, who desperately wished to stop the cycle of the disease, called for a reconsideration of the “No Vaccination Policy”, stressing that the calls have resurfaced again for the same reasons.

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He pointed out that the Ministry in her avowed commitment for proper stakeholders’ consultation, set up a Ministerial Committee consisting of experts from research institutions, academia, public and private sectors and international partners to look into what the sub-sector was doing right in the past that prevented or contained the disease.

Speaking further, the Minister revealed that decisions were taken after due consideration of scientific and socio-economic evidences available to the committee on merits and demerits of no vaccination, best global practices as well as the recommendations of the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH).

He, therefore, noted that the committee recommended that the country should stick to the ‘No Vaccination’ policy for now, recommending that some activities needed to be carried out before considering the option of vaccination against HPAI as a policy for the country.

These includes: updating the identification and characterization of circulating HPAI virus strains, conduct of risk assessment and analysis, ascertaining the efficacy of the vaccines amongst others.

In his remarks, Director Veterinary and Pest Control Services, Dr. Columba Vakuru said Poultry farming was one of vibrant sectors with huge potential, noting that it is not a business one can delve into anyhow.

He stressed the need to identify with Directors of Veterinary Services at the State level to comply with the basic measures and regulation of the poultry industry. He also reiterated Nigeria’s potential to produce vaccines.

SOURCE: Tribune