Mad cow disease occurrence negligible in Namibia – Mutorwa

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Staff Reporter

Windhoek-Namibia has become the first country in Africa to endorse a lung sickness control programme (CBPP) for livestock and remains the only country with negligible risk status for mad cow disease (BSE), says the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa.

Mutorwa made the announcement in a statement availed to the media by the ministry early this week when he officially opened the 22nd conference of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) that started on Monday in Walvis Bay and is scheduled to end tomorrow.

He noted that in the government’s determination to raise the animal health status of the northern communal areas (NCAs) a policy on the eradication of transboundary animal disease was launched in 2010.

Mad cow disease is a fatal illness that destroys the brain and spinal cord in cattle.
In line with the policy, government has started to implement the OIE-endorsed control programmes, which aim to eradicate foot and mouth disease (FMD) from protection zones and lung sickness from the entire NCAs.

He said the disease status has seen Namibia penetrate lucrative markets for animals and animal products in places like the European Union, Switzerland, Norway, Hong Kong, Russia and the United States of America.

Studies done in the country on risk management included pre-slaughter quarantine of cattle among other measures for FMD that were implemented in the Zambezi Region, which is prone to FMD. The studies contributed to the formulation of Article 8.8.22 of the Foot and Mouth Disease Chapter 8.8 of the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code 2016 based on commodity trade.

‘‘It is hoped that the African continent implements this standard to promote trade in fresh meat of cattle,’’ stressed Mutorwa.

The minister added that the government strives to implement OIE standards to achieve national objectives on disease control.

He further pointed out that Namibia hosted the OIE Experts Mission to Southern Africa in 2013 to assess the implementation and compliance with the relevant provisions of the Terrestrial Code to ensure maintenance of FMD-free status.

The experts were satisfied with the performance of the Directorate of Veterinary Services on the criteria evaluated, which included the control programme, application of zonal strategy, surveillance, diagnostics, movement control and animal identification, among others.

Namibia experienced FMD disease in 2015 mostly in the northern part of the country.
A total of N$180 million was spent on procuring 3.7 million doses of the FMD vaccine.

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