Namibia is winning the battle against foot-and-mouth disease after over 350 000 cattle were vaccinated since the outbreak of the dreaded disease at two locations in the Northern Communal Areas (NCA).
Chief Veterinary Officer in the Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS), Dr Milton Maseke, made the announcement yesterday when he attended the handover of foodstuff, as a token of appreciation for the unselfish work being done by officials and farm workers combatting the disease in remote areas of the country.
The handover followed a special animal health consultation forum.
Maseke praised the Namibian livestock industry, all role players and more than 850 government officials and 450 casual workers for halting the worst outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in its tracks in a relatively short time.
“DVS has almost two-thirds of its total workforce of 1 500 people in the field fighting day and night to eradicate the disease and repair the veterinary corridor fence. They work under extreme conditions and sometimes in isolation,” stated Maseke.
“Therefore, we appreciate the donation of packets of 500 each of various food supplements from Meatco, Namib Mills, Bokomo, Agra and Windhoek Livestock Auctioneers to secure an everyday meal for these gallant troops in the field. Were it not for the biggest effort from all involved, these outbreaks could have spelled disaster for the industry and the country, as all eyes are upon us,” he said.
Maseke says the battle against FMD continues on all fronts with roadblocks set up at all strategic points and intensive monitoring ongoing throughout all the infected and surveillance areas.
“We are adamant to stop FMD, but we have also learned a valuable lesson and that is the only lasting solution is to erect the veterinary fence between Namibia and Angola,” he said.
Government reacted promptly after the first outbreaks, with Cabinet approving N$208 million to eradicate the disease once and for all.
About N$52 million of this amount will be spent over the next two financial years to erect the fence.
Two isolated cases of FMD were reported some two weeks ago in Kavango West’s Mpungu Constituency. No new cases have been reported and Maseke says it seems the battle has been won.
“But no stone will be left unturned until we eradicate FMD for good,” he promised. All livestock movement has been stopped and the vaccination of some 1.4 million cattle is going ahead full steam. Thirty-eight temporary roadblocks to monitor and enforce animal and commodity movement control and decontamination of vehicles and foot-ware are in operation throughout the NCAs and at permanent veterinary checkpoints along the veterinary corridor fence.
Forty-eight teams are carrying out the vaccination and the first round is expected to be completed by end of this month. The first cases of the disease were detected at the Ondama Yomunghete crush pen on May 11, 2015, and at the Okalupalona and Onehanga crush pens on May 12, while more cases were detected on May 13 at the Okakango village in the Okankolo Constituency.
Government is said to be spending about N$119 million on the vaccination of some 1.4 million head of cattle against FMD.