Vaccinations for FMD to save meat industry

WINDHOEK: Government will spend about N.dollars 119 million to vaccinate close to 1.2 million cattle for foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in the north central regions of Namibia with immediate effect.

Half a million vaccines is expected to arrive from Botswana Vaccine Institute on Thursday, according to the Deputy Director of Animal Disease Control in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF), John Shoopala during a media conference on Wednesday.

“This is a challenge. FMD is not only in these two constituencies (Okongo in Ohangwena Region and Okankolo in the Oshikoto Region), but is now in the Omusati Region, and is also suspected in the Kunene Region. FMD is also moving westwards now.” he warned.

Three rounds of vaccines will be required, with the immediate vaccine to be done now, and the second round within the next 30 days after the first one and the third round to be administered within the period of one year, thereafter.

The first cases of FMD were detected at Ondama Yomunghete crushpen on 11 May 2015 and at Okalupalona and Onehanga crushpens on 12 May 2015. The second case was detected on 13 May 2015 at Okakango village in the Okankolo constituency in the Oshikoto Region. The MAWF further confirmed that all cases reported have track cases to Namibia’s cattle that were or came in contact with cattle grazing in some parts of the Cuando Cubango province of Angola. As a result of the outbreak, the MAWF imposed a ban on the marketing of cattle and cattle products in the northern central regions of Namibia. The movement of animals have also been restricted. The abattoirs in the north central regions are also negatively affected.

Meanwhile, speaking at the same occasion, MAWF Minister John Mutorwa said government gave the green light to the ministry to act with immediate effect after a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday

He described the situation as an ‘immediate crises’, but also called on Namibians not to panic as the country is facing another drought.

“If we fail, then the whole beef industry can be in jeopardy. As a result, Cabinet is of the view and decided that the permanent lasting solution to control the outbreak of the animal diseases in the northern central regions of Namibia is the erection of the livestock fence between Namibia and Angola to control the movement of animals between the two countries, and to allow for designated veterinary control points where such animals can and must be allowed to move, strictly under control,” he noted.

The cost for the fence is estimated at more than N.dollars 51 million.

MAWF has designated that the larger part of the northern central areas, north of the B1 main road from Oshivelo to Oshikango and from Oshivelo to Katwitwi as a containment area. Here surveillance of further cases will be undertaken and from which any movement of cattle will be restricted, according to Mutorwa.

MAWF will erect temporary roadblocks along the main roads to control the movement of cattle to other areas. These roadblocks will be manned by officials from the ministry with the assistance from the Namibian Police and other law enforcement agencies. Sufficient human resource is needed to assist with the vaccination exercise. In addition, the Meat Board will provide 250 casual workers. The Meat Board will also donate about N.dollars 6 million to the FMD exercise.

The total budget for the whole exercise is estimated at more than N.dollars 208 million. All funds for the immediate intervention are from the 2015/2016 budget, according to Mutorwa. Expenses include FMD vaccine purchase, vaccination equipment, laboratory expenses, protective clothing, camping equipment, road block equipment, about forty 4×4 vehicles, overtime, and casual labour.