Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe: FAO to provide vaccines to fight FMD

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JOHANNESBURG, 12 February (IRIN) - Zimbabwe will receive a consignment of 340,000 vaccines from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) as part of efforts to control the spread of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) which has dealt a severe blow to the country's livestock industry.
Recently the government's veterinary department pleaded for help to buy vaccines as the country did not have enough foreign currency to do so.

However, while the Netherlands-sponsored delivery will provide some relief from the crisis, the FAO has warned that it will only cover 10 percent of the up to 3.4 million doses needed to vaccinate all the animals at risk of contracting the disease.

"The priority now is for vaccines and for logistical support like vehicles to move the vaccines around the country and people need to be sensitised to the need to control the disease," Mario Samaja, FAO emergency operations director for Zimbabwe told IRIN.

Besides vaccine, support was also needed in other areas, he said.

"There is contact between domestic livestock and wild animals which acts as a reservoir for the disease and there are logistical difficulties in controlling the spread of the disease tied into the general problems the country is facing, like a lack of petrol," Samaja noted.

Stuart Hargreaves, director of Zimbabwe's veterinary services said his department would prioritise by administering the vaccines to dairy herds in Chipinge in the east of the country and protecting communal areas where there have been infections.

"It's just a stopgap but it's better than nothing," he said.

Commenting on an allegation by Botswana MP James Maruatona that Zimbabwe "had done nothing" to control the spread of the highly contagious disease and its spillover into Botswana, Hargreaves said: "People must be very cautious before accusations are made."

He said laboratory analysis had shown that a previous outbreak that had been blamed on Zimbabwe had been a different strain to that detected in Botswana.

Zimbabwe suspended beef exports to the European Union and the United States in 2001 but still exports to some southern African countries and Libya.

Drought, smuggling, and the sale of cattle by commercial farmers who lost their land under the government's land redistribution programme has resulted in a marked reduction in the national herd.

[ENDS]

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