Ministries Ally to Avert Anthrax, Rabies

Implementing the strategic plan will cost the nation more than 600 million Br

Four ministries have developed a strategic document aimed at controlling and preventing animal and human diseases. Implementation of this project is projected to cost the nation over 600 million Br.

The ministries of Health (MoH), Livestock & Fishery (MoLF), Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEFCC) and Culture & Tourism (MoCT) were involved in the development process. The latter has been involved with the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA).

Development partners such as Centre for Disease Control (CDC), Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Ohio State University have also taken part in the draft national strategy.

Its main aim is to prevent and control anthrax and rabies. The former is a type of disease which is caused by bacteria. It affects farm animals and humans that have come in direct contact with infected animals or products that come from them.

Rabies is a disease that is caused by an inflammation of the brain of animals, including humans.

“Ethiopia is one of the countries with a frequent record of anthrax, especially in the cattle producing area of the country,” Meseret Bekele, veterinary public health, epidemiology directorate directress at Ministry of Livestock & Fishery.

Under the national plan, research will be carried out, and vaccination and medication awareness creation activities will be conducted in regions that are considered vulnerable.

With a plan period of a decade, strategic areas of focus have been devised. They are strengthening reporting systems, improving outbreak investigation and response, prevention and control, improving diagnostic laboratory capacity and risk communication.

The plan took a year, with studying and assessing scientific mechanisms to control and prevent zoonotic diseases that are found in animals but can also infect humans.

A workshop was held last Monday to discuss and comment on components of the strategic document.

“After discussions with stakeholders, the document was believed to have passed a technical evaluation,” said Asefa Deressa (PhD), team leader at Zoonoses Research at Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI). “It is an import plan for we need to work together to plan and prepare ourselves to deal with epidemics of all potential zoonotic diseases.”

Ethiopia has the most amount of livestock in Africa. There are about 54 million cattle, 25.5 million sheep and 24.06 million goats. The livestock sector also contributes close to 16.5pc to the gross domestic product (GDP) and 15pc to export earnings.

The nation also has an estimated five million dogs and a quarter of a million cats.

“Improved animal health services could hugely increase livestock productivity and the earnings of their owners,” Meseret said.

Mussie Hailemelekot, a lecturer at Bahirdar University (PhD) that specialises in tropical veterinary medicine, with 12 years of experience, agrees.

“There needs to be a great effort in awareness creation,” Mussie told Fortune. “The case of Anthrax will be especially challenging as the bacteria will stay alive for about six decades in the soil, complicating the execution period of the strategy.”


Published on Apr 06,2018 [ Vol 18 ,No 936]



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