Namibia sets the pace in reporting animal diseases

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By Wezi Tjaronda

WINDHOEK

Namibia is leading the way in terms of disease reporting in Southern Africa.

Last week, the Department of Veterinary Affairs in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry launched the Real Time Disease Reporting System that will enable the department to have real-time information for decision-making and planning and facilitate quality provision of livestock and livestock products to the country’s trading partners.

The system will ensure effective control of animal disease outbreaks.
Although other Southern African countries such as Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Malawi have tested the system, Namibia is the only country that adopted it and is going to implement it.

State Veterinarian in the Epidemiology Section, Dr Alec Bishi, told New Era that implementing the system meant that Namibia was preparing for the future considering the requirements of sanitary measures that are always going up.

“We are keeping ourselves ahead. It is important that we have a prompt disease reporting system,” he said.

This development will in turn allow the agricultural sector to be globally competitive and contribute to the well being of the nation.

The system was launched last week and is already being used in northern Namibia, with future plans to expand it to the whole country.

Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Francois Joubert, said the country needs to provide evidence-based information about the health of its livestock industry as regulations become more stringent.

“One major constraint has been the lack of timely data capture from the field that indicates the animal health status,” said Joubert.

By using the system, which allows for real-time data collection, transmission and processing, the process of data capture from the field to the information system takes seconds and can lead to an outbreak being reported in remote areas by an animal technician or veterinarian and transmitted to response teams at headquarters and districts immediately, which would trigger actions to control the outbreak.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Andrew Ndishishi, who launched the new system last week, said the system would make Namibia a leader in the region on information, technology and communications regarding animal health reporting.

Apart from being used for diseases, the system can also be used for livestock census, movement permits, community animal health and pest surveillance and can be incorporated in data collection activities of other ministries, said Ndishishi.

A regional project, “Surveillance and Control of Epidemic Foot-and-mouth Disease and Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia in Southern Africa” was funded by the Republic of South Africa with technical assistance provided by Food and Agricultural Organisation, whose officials worked with the Department of Veterinary Services to test new technology.

Namibia’s livestock diseases include foot-and-mouth disease, lung sickness, which occurs in the northern communal areas, while others include anthrax, rabies, botulism, lumpy skin disease, blue tongue, black leg and other internal parasites.

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