The Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA) has called on the Federal Government to institutionalise annual disease surveillance to lessen the spread of Avian influenza and other deadly diseases in the country.
NVMA identified avian influenza (bird flu) as a highly pathogenic and infectious disease with the potential of public health consequences and its outbreak in Nigeria as a time bomb waiting to explode.
Disease surveillance is an information-based activity that involves the collection, analysis, and interpretation of large volumes of data originating from a variety of sources to provide a valuable archive of disease activity for future reference among other things.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Chairman of the association, FCT Chapter, Dr Bala Muhammad, said that avian influenza has enormous capability to infect birds as well as the ability to mutate to affect humans.
The Chairman explained that annual surveillance will give the government clue on when to advise farmers to step up bio-security and other containment exercises to avoid huge losses.
Muhammad emphasised the need for government at all levels, farmers and other stakeholders to beef up efforts to eradicate the disease noting that bird flu was zoonotic.
Such concerted efforts will not only stem the huge economic losses but will as well avoid mutation and spread to man, he added.
In his words, “The fragile poultry industry needs to be protected to guarantee its growth and contribution to the economy.
“Information is power, awareness campaigns on issues around outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian influenza will save the day.
“The moment there is an outbreak, we should not wait until the entire country is engulfed in the crisis. We should try as much as possible to do some kind of ring assessment and activate the containment plan”
The Association’s chairman, therefore, urged that government summon stakeholders’ meetings for review of the national containment plan, and the “no vaccination’’ policy.
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