Expired meds limit campaign

This year's cattle vaccination campaign in the northern communal areas has hit an obstacle.

14 October 2019 | Agriculture

Only some cattle in the northern communal areas will benefit from this year's free lung sickness vaccination.

The agriculture ministry would neither confirm nor deny that the campaign has been hamstrung by expired vaccines.

It did confirm, however, that vaccination will only be conducted in areas regarded as high risk.

The Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS) annually administers free lung sickness vaccinations in the northern communal areas between April and June. During these campaigns, veterinary officials also administer free rabies vaccinations of dogs and cats.

A well-placed source has informed Namibian Sun that this year's campaign has been affected by vaccines that expired in May.

“The ministry had enough contagious bovine pleuropneumonia control drugs in stock, but they expired in May. Ministry officials were unaware of this until the last minute when the campaign was due to kick off. If it had been noticed earlier, we could have done it before that time,” the source said.

“The ministry had to source vehicles to be used in the campaign, hire temporary employees and all other necessary equipment that we could not gather in time. Now the few drugs we have will just be used in regions regarded as high risk.”

When contacted for comment, agriculture ministry executive director Percy Misika referred all questions about expired vaccines to the director of veterinary services, Dr Albertina Shilongo. Shilongo did not respond to the questions despite having promised to do so.

Misika said the vaccination of cattle against lung sickness is being conducted along with the foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) vaccination in the northern communal areas, but the strategy has changed.

“The strategy for the annual vaccination campaign has slightly changed in the sense that vaccination against FMD and lung sickness is conducted in areas regarded as high risk.

“These areas are the whole FMD-infected zone (red zone), which consists of the entire Zambezi Region, Mukwe and Ndiyona constituencies of the Kavango East Region; and some areas of the protection zone (green zone) in the Kavango East and West, Ohangwena and Oshikoto regions,” Misika said.

“The veterinary officials are about to complete the second round of vaccination in the Zambezi Region and will continue to the Kavango East, West and other regions.”

Misika added that a vaccination campaign against rabies was conducted in Ohangwena, Oshikoto, Oshana and Omusati during the school holidays in August.

Agricultural economist Wallie Roux says the annual vaccination is an important prevention measure to upgrade the animal health status of the communal farming areas.

He says the main aim is to make sure that the area is free from animal diseases and that meat from these areas can have market access.

Because of the free roaming of cattle between Namibia and Angola, vaccination is crucial.

“In the area north of the veterinary cordon fence annual vaccination is important for prevention of disease and not to wait for outbreaks. Due to the fact that we are bordered with countries such as Angola and Zimbabwe, the chances of FMD or lung sickness getting into our country are very high,” Roux says.

ILENI NANDJATO

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