Border fence essential for animal disease control

Windhoek-The border fence between Namibia and Angola remains the backbone of animal disease control, says the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa.

Mutorwa made the assertion in a statement availed to the media by the ministry when he officially opened the 22nd Conference of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), which started on Monday at Walvis Bay and is expected to end tomorrow.

The minister said a multi-ministerial technical committee, led by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, was formed to spearhead the necessary consultations with the Angolan authorities and experts to implement the border fence programme.

''Government remains committed to improve the animal status in the northern communal areas in order to improve food security and marketing opportunities for the previously marginalised large majority of the Namibian population,'' said the minister.

Some of the controls include the application of zonal strategy, surveillance, diagnostics, movement control, animal identification and traceability, to mention but a few.

Rabies still remains one of the most important zoonotic diseases occurring in Namibia. Rabies, like anthrax, can be transmitted from animals to people.

The minister acknowledged the OIE and other cooperating partners' support in the formulation and implementation of a rabies control project in eliminating the disease in the northern communal areas (NCAs).

In March last year a pilot study was launched in the NCAs where some activities were implemented.

Two pet vaccination campaigns were conducted in a space of six months together with surveillance and community education. A Knowledge Attitude and Practices (KAP) study was also conducted.

He said the project has seen major improvements in pet rabies vaccination coverage.

Some 25 800 pets were vaccinated countrywide, which effected a significant decline in rabies cases.

He commended the OIE for implementing various training activities for focal points in disease reporting and preparation of dossiers for disease status, which will promote transparency, clarify disease status and promote safe trade on the African continent.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia