The Government of Akwa Ibom State has embarked on a statewide free vaccination of sheep and goats against the dreaded and highly contagious viral disease of small ruminants, Pests des Petits Ruminantes (PPR), commonly referred to as “goat plague”.
Flagging off the exercise with a short ceremony at Obot Akara Local Government Area, the state commissioner for Agriculture and Food Sufficiency, Dr Glory Edet, reiterated the vision of the state government to ensure food security for her teeming population. She highlighted other activities and initiatives carried out to interpret the vision, while noting that the vaccination campaign is one of such initiatives to ensure that the livelihoods of rural dwellers (who raise goats and sheep at subsistence levels) are protected. She mentioned agriculture as a cardinal point in the state’s post-COVID19 economic reconstruction agenda.
In his remarks, the state Director of Veterinary Services (DVS), Dr Obot Obot, thanked the state government for visionary leadership and proactiveness in changing the narrative of agriculture of the state, especially the livestock sector. He shed more light on the severe economic consequences of PPR on livestock, also highlighting the successes of previous vaccination campaigns in the state. Also speaking, the chairman of Nigeria Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA) Akwa Ibom Chapter, Dr Ofonmbuk Ntuen harped on the continued commitment of members of the association to partner with the state government in ensuring food sufficiency by safeguarding animal health, as well as public health, as witnessed in the association’s statewide COVID-19 decontamination exercise.
Goodwill messages were also presented by the State Director of Animal Husbandry, Mr Aniefiok Isong, and the state chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Prince Inwang; thanking the state government for the initiative. Similarly, the representative of the Obot Akara LGA chairman, Mr Usoro Hanson, appreciated the government for finding them worthy to kickstart the vaccination exercise, and appealed for more of such initiatives to give them a sense of belonging, and boost their livelihoods.
Highlight of the flag-off exercise was the presentation of herds of goats and sheep by framers for vaccination by the veterinary personnel, assisted by the commissioner for agriculture, with cheers and excitement from the teeming crowd as they watched on.
Peste de Petits Ruminants (PPR) is a World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) notifiable animal disease. Popularly called “kata” in Nigeria, it is caused by PPR virus (PPRV), a morbillivirus closely related to rinderpest. It is characterized by fever, discharges from nose and mouth, foul-smelling diarrhoea, and pneumonia. In an infected herd, mortality can be as high as 90%. Treatment with supportive therapy has showed narrow success margin in many cases, which signifies the economic importance of this disease both to livestock farmers and the government.
The good news therefore is that it is a vaccine-preventable disease, hence, the free vaccination campaign will no doubt go a long way in protecting the state’s livestock population, enhancing nutrition, and cushioning the harsh economic effects of the COVID-19 and #EndSARS lockdown and curfews on the livestock farmers in the state. LIVESTONEWS.