By Victoria Onehi
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Dr Mohammed Mahmood Abubakar has said the Federal governments “No vaccination” policy for the control of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza otherwise known as ‘Bird Flu’ in Nigeria remains.
The Minister made this known at a Media briefing held in Abuja on Thursday.
The Minister said since 2006 when the country recorded her first outbreak of HPAI in a farm in Kaduna State, the Federal Government with the support of World bank and other development partners intervened in different ways to ensure prompt and effective prevention and control of the disease. One of such interventions was the formulation of a policy on prevention and control of HPAI bordering on Modified Stamping Out and No Vaccination strategy. This approach was to stop the circulation of the HPAI virus in our environment and mitigate losses to the poultry farmers.
He said ” Following the resurgence of HPAI in 2014, poultry farmers and other stakeholders, who desperately wished to stop the cycle of the disease called for a reconsideration of the NO VACCINATION POLICY. The calls have resurfaced again for the same reasons. Therefore, the Ministry in her avowed commitment for proper stakeholders’ consultation set up a Ministerial Committee consisting of experts from the research institutions, academia, public and private sectors and international partners to look into what the sub – sector was doing right in the past that prevented or contained the disease, what has gone wrong and importantly, what should now be done.
“After due consideration of scientific and socio-economic evidences available to the committee on merits and demerits of vaccination or no vaccination, best global practices as well as the recommendations of the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH), the committee recommends that the country should stick to the ‘No Vaccination’ policy for now.” the minister disclosed.
However,the minister said though the committee noted that the country might want to change her policy to vaccinate against HPAI in future, it recommends some activities to be carried out before considering the option of vaccination against HPAI as a policy for the country.
“These should include the following; updating the identification and characterization of circulating HPAI virus strains in Nigeria updating prevalence and associated risk factors conduct of risk assessment and analysis ascertaining the efficacy of the vaccines and risk-mapping of the poultry production systems in the country.” Abubakar explains.